20 July-2014, The Guardian: A trickle of well-wishers continued to lay flowers outside the Dutch embassy in Moscow on Sunday at a makeshift shrine to the victims of the MH17 crash. Several notes among the bouquets and teddy bears read “forgive us”.
The majority of Russians, however, do not appear to blame the shooting down of the plane on their government and the eastern Ukraine rebels the country has been accused of sponsoring, but rather on the pro-western Ukrainian government in Kiev.
An English teacher who would give her name only as Tatiana, said she had laid flowers because she was ashamed of her government, which she suspected provided weapons to the pro-Russian rebels who are thought to have downed the plane. “I feel like it’s state terrorism, a government who supports terrorists,” she said.
Natasha, a corporate PR specialist, said: “We represent an opposition point of view, but I think it’s [the rebels’] mistake, not being able to use the weapons that fell into their hands.”
But several other people on Moscow’s Arbat pedestrian street suspected a Ukrainian or US plot. Media outlets including the state-controlled television channels have raised a variety of explanations for the MH17 tragedy, including now-debunked theories that Ukrainian fighter jets had shot down the plane or that Kiev’s air defence was trying to shoot down Vladimir Putin’s jet.
Rebel leaders have claimed that they don’t have weapons capable of hitting such a plane, even though Russian media previously reported separatist militia had seized Buk missile launchers like the one widely believed to have been used.
“I think the Americans did it,” said dog-breeder Natasha Kovalyova. “They want to write Russia into this, but it’s their work.”
Roza Velgan, an elderly flower seller, said she knew “for sure” that Ukrainian forces shot down the plane, and that the rebels “don’t have such weapons”.
“Russia is not doing any harm to anyone,” she said. “Even if we are giving weapons to the rebels, we live near to them. The Americans are on the other side of the ocean, why are they getting involved, delivering weapons to the Ukrainians?”
Velgan said the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, should be held accountable for the civilian casualties that have been mounting in eastern Ukraine. “We need to kill Poroshenko, or tear him in two,” she said. “He’s brought so much grief, and America is helping him.”
Irina, a newspaper vendor, said: “I’m a patriot of my country, I can’t say we shot it down.” She said the Ukrainian authorities were to blame for letting the plane fly over a war zone. Asked about the possibility of further US sanctions, she said: “What sanctions can there be when we don’t know what is going on there?”
Kovalyova added: “Sanctions on what? It’s useless to dictate terms to Russia, it’s too strong a country.”
Opinions seemed strongly tied to the news sources people followed. Andrei, a pensioner who often listened to the liberal radio station Ekho Moskvy, said of the coverage: “It feels like there’s a lot of propaganda.
“It was probably the separatists, that’s my suspicion, but we will need an investigation.”