Wednesday, July 23, 2014

On Being Accused

Most part of the world is unhappy with Russia over the MH17 incident. Deputy President of the US, Prime Minister of Australia, and even the Dutch leaders were demanding that Russia do something about the problematic eastern state of Ukraine. Prime Minister of Ukraine were then blaming the Russians for aiding the separatist in the east.

While President Putin didn't come out to clarify the incidences that seemed to have been biased against the Russians, I find the replies of the Russian Ambassador to Malaysia particularly smart. We gotta see the picture from both sides alright? While the questions asked may not be directly related to the accusations of many, there were some smart answers / clarifications from the Russian to the questions posed.

Q = BernamaTV
Vorobyeva: Russian Ambassador
Caller -The viewers of this telecast

Accusation #1 - Russian aiding the Eastern Ukrainian states.
Q: When it comes to this conflict, of course the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has been ongoing. And with us, we would want to be clear that Malaysia and Russia never had any problem. A lot of people have now started asking, do we have problems with the Russian government, and I don't think we do. What's your comment? 

Vorobyeva: First of all, it's not the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, but it's the conflict that is going on inside Ukraine, between the government in Kiev and the part of the population of Ukraine (eastern Ukraine) that are not happy with the policy of this government.

This is not only a linguistic divide, but it's a political divide as well because when the Western media called this pro-Russian rebels it implied the people came from somewhere, which is not the case. Actually, they're Ukrainian citizens who are living in Ukraine and they have been living in Ukraine for centuries (as a family). The only thing, they are ethnic-Russians.

Like in Malaysia, you do have Malays, Chinese, Indian ethnics but they're all Malaysian citizens. The same in Ukraine, when you have Ukrainians, you have Russians but they're all Ukrainian nationals, but part of them are not happy with the government in Kiev. And the government in Kiev instead of listening and initiating all-inclusive national dialogues, they are sending troops. That's the problem.

As for problems between Russia and Malaysia, I am not aware of any problem that we could have between our two countries. The relations between our two countries have been developing in a very positive way in recent decades, in all levels.

I know many Malaysians are aware that there are now more than 5,000 Malaysians (close to 6,000 Malaysian students) studying in Russia and, in other areas, we have a very good trade turnover around US$3bil (RM9.5bil) and we have quite active political dialogues going on. We don't have any problems and issues with Malaysia.

Fair enough. Different race and ethnic had never been able to live together under one roof. Our forbidden "MMDD", southern Thailand and Philipines for instance... But still...

Accusations # 2 - that the black box from the plane is on its way to Moscow
Q: Coming back to MH17 and speaking on the flight's black box that has been taken. What is the information given out to the embassy now as to ... a lot has been circulated in the social media too about who has taken the black box? 

Vorobyeva: The recent information, well actually I know from the Russian TV, agencies' news is that the black box has been indeed found by so-called rebels, but I do not know whether this information was verified officially but, according to our TV news report, the rebels will hand over the black box to the international committee headed by ICAO.

Q: When do we have an estimate date at least, on when the box will be handed over? 

Vorobyeva: As soon as the international commission reaches the crash area, and it depends on the rebels, and the Kiev authorities as well. 

So... Kiev (Capital of Ukraine) is responsible for the actions of the rebels now?'

Accusations # 3 - Looting
Q: Being the Russian Ambassador to Malaysia, how would you provide assistance to the people who need assistance at this point? 

Vorobyeva: Whatever assistance that you may need from us, from the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Kuala Lumpur, we are all ready to provide.

I can tell you one small example that we did. We were contacted by a Malaysian person who lost his wife and small child in this tragedy. The wife's iPad was found in the area, and the person who found this iPad posted a message in Russian language, and there was a telephone number in the message.

We contacted this person and it turned out that it is a young girl who found a bag with this iPad and some of the child's belongings ... you must understand that the debris is scattered all around 50km from the crash site. Actually what she told us was that she was very eager to hand over this bag and belongings to the family.
So, actually we advised her to get in touch with the Malaysian experts and to hand it over to Malaysian experts that will be working on the site.

And yes indeed, this example is very contrasting to the information that the site is being looted, and that it is a crime site and many other negative reports.

As I mentioned earlier, according to OSCE observers, people who are in control of the territory, actually, they are providing all necessary arrangements that the site should not be looted and the evidence should not be tampered with.

If Le sis read about this, she would definitely know about the mother and the child. But she's right, debris was scattered all over, even within the villages. I don't think it should be considered looting if there's a bag right in front of your door one morning and you've got no idea there was a plane crash 20km away.
Q: Until now we're still yet to get clear passage. Is that one of the indicators? Last week, the Ukraine Ambassador came and talked about how Ukraine feels for the victims and also talked about how he believes it's a problem Russia has to deal with.

Yorobyeva: We're going back to point number one when everyone is blaming Russia for this. There's no evidence as I mentioned. And before coming up with the accusations, there should be a very thorough investigation by the international commission. That's what Russia is asking for. That's what Russia is calling for.

Yesterday (Sunday), the President (Putin) clearly stated that Russia is calling for investigation by an international commission lead by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation).

The other theories on what happened ... actually one of the theories is that Ukrainian armed forces do have the kind of air defence system fired on this aircraft. I can remind our viewers an incident that happened in 2001 when a Russian aircraft was shot down by a Ukrainian missile. 

Accusations # 4 - Russian shot the plane
Caller: How can rebels have access to surface-to-air missiles if not backed by a superpower? 

Yorobyeva: Actually there is no evidence that rebels had access to this kind of very sophisticated equipment. I'm not a military expert but I know that it's a very sophisticated system that requires special training for the personnel to be able to use it.

Moreover, some time ago, the Attorney-General of Ukraine stated that it is a fact that rebels didn't have any of these systems. On the contrary, the Ukrainian armed forces do have these kinds of systems that are deployed in this region. 

Ball bounced back to the Ukrainian's court. Hmm? Hmm...

For the full BernamaTV interview:

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