Last updated: 08:41 PM ET, Sun May 31 2015

Report: Russia Doctored Photos to Implicate Ukraine in Shooting Down of Airliner

Impacting Travel | Michael Isenbek | May 31, 2015

Report: Russia Doctored Photos to Implicate Ukraine in Shooting Down of Airliner

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Photo evidence presented by Russia to prove Ukraine is responsible for shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 has been examined by an independent analysis group, and been declared doctored. This revelation increases skepticism at Russia’s assertion that neither separatists they armed, or their own armed forces are responsible for the tragedy, Patrick Reevell of ABC News reported.

All 298 passengers on board were killed when the jet was shot out of the sky near Donetsk, Ukraine, near the border with Russia last July. According to Reevell, experts are in agreement that a Buk anti-aircraft missile hit the plane, a common type used by both Russian and Ukrainian militaries. 

In the aftermath of the crash, the Russian defense ministry issued satellite images they said showed Buk missile launchers operated by the Ukrainian army near Donetsk in the days around the downing, implying the Ukrainian army were the ones responsible.

Bellingcat, an independent analysis group, examined the open-source images, and after 30 pages of explanation, they stated “unequivocally" the images had been digitally altered as to appear to have been taken around mid-July, but were actually taken in the first half of June.

Photoshop was also used, according to Bellingcat. Cloud cover had been added in some cases to hide anachronistic picture elements.

"These claims, representing the majority of information publicly presented by the Russian government since the downing of Flight MH17, are a clear attempt by the Russian government to deceive the public, global community, and the families of the Flight MH17 victims," Bellingcat said in a statement released with the report.

The downing of MH17 caused worldwide outrage, and harsher sanctions by western countries on Russia for arming pro-Russian separatists.

Reevell said no definitive conclusions have been reached about what caused the Flight MH17 tragedy, but an official inquiry by the Dutch government (most of the victims were from Holland) will be publishing its findings this summer.

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