According to Yarko, the organization understands that fragments of the plane are physical evidence in a criminal case, so they decided to return the aircraft wreckage to the Donbas.

The Russians advised the residents of the village of Rassypne to send the fragment of Boeing to the representatives of the international investigation group probing the crash.

"Yesterday, the fragment was sent to Donetsk region," Yarko said.

MH17 crashed in militant-held parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk region on July 17 last year. There is mounting evidence that the aircraft was shot down by a powerful Buk anti-aircraft missile, probably supplied to the militants by Russia.

The Dutch-led international investigation team investigating the circumstances of the crash, in which nearly 300 people were killed (most of them Dutch citizens) is to present its findings in October.

In parallel to the air crash investigation, Dutch police are carrying out a criminal investigation into who was responsible for the downing of the plane.