MH17: Bellingcat's 'missing link'

Further examination of the Bellingcat evidence concerning the cause of the plane crash with the MH17 provides several gaps. It appears to be related to each other coincidences, suggestions, obscure sources and butter soft proof techniques.
by Hector Reban

The main public evidence that anti-Kiev rebels flight MH17 would have on July 17, 2014 shot down the so-called "track trail theory ', a track on social media published photos and films of a transport of a BUK-launcher through rebel territory. The NOS , the Times and others have already gone so far as to experience the route itself.

The theory, delivered in few hours after the disaster by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), was by the British online research collective Bellingcat (BCAT) perfected and by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) does official investigation into the cause of Disaster adopted as main scenario.

Meanwhile, the BCAT collective managed to accuse the Russians of direct involvement by the visual track to expand on the Russian border. The Dutch and the Anglo-Saxon media sail blindly the instructions of Eliot Higgins, founder of BCAT and his helpers. But in reality seems to depend on closer inspection the wake of BCAT together of coincidences, suggestions, obscure sources and butter soft proof techniques. A spot-deconstruction.

1. Create Opportunity: Put a weapon in their hands, but how?

Without a weapon obviously can not exist perpetrators, so they need to get the rebels have had the opportunity a BUK. Two are mutually contradictory scenarios propagated in the Western media:

a. The rebels made a BUK spoils of a conquered Ukrainian army base.

This interpretation is supported by the BND (German intelligence service) in a statement issued in October 2014 in the German parliament.

Implicitly, this version is confirmed by the US: "We have no evidence that Russians are directly involved," implying that the Russians would have no BUK delivered .

'Compelling' evidence on social media triumphant rebels support this story. Incidentally, Ukrainian officials seem to contradict each other regularly during that time or possibly a BUK held by rebels.

b. The Russians have made ​​available the BUK (the Putin-did-it scenario).

This version is from the first moment after the disaster propagated by top Ukrainian officials:

However, Ukraine's Prosecutor General Vitaliy Yarema cast doubt on this [BUK seized by rebels Ukrainian army; -HR], Telling local media on Friday: "The military told the president after the passenger plane had been shot down That the terrorists did not Possess our Buk missile systems." - The Guardian

If the rebels themselves had the decision must have been so Russians who used the murder weapon. BCAT gives credibility to this story by pushing his stamp of approval on material supplied by the SBU, which in turn is supported by geolocation of blog hosting citizen Ukraine_at_war .

The BUK-conscious platform, according to the report by BCAT late June 2014 have been part of a Russian military transport. Then it would be released around July 17 in his uppie to do the dirty work at Snizhne. After his escape from rebel territory it closed again by the so-called 'july convoy which was heading towards Kursk in Russia .

Actually BCAT is setting both the BND and the US off as inferior traces seekers. More importantly for our story is that there are now two conflicting scenarios that ironically both based on "very compelling social media evidence. Maybe build social media is not always such a hard proof method.

2. The beginning of the tour. Paris Match under pressure

The track trail through rebel territory offering BCAT, begins with a photograph taken by an (anonymous freelance) photographer for the French magazine Paris Match . Who drove entirely coincidentally the morning of July 17 in Donetsk combines beyond what a unique truck 'would prove to be the trailer with the alleged BUK missiles. The waking photographer shooting his masterpiece directly if he has seen in a glass sphere that that day would follow.

Later, the truck will more often BCAT be identified as belonging to the rebels, destroying apparently after their deed no pleasure in them created by pleading evidence. The SBU chief was there just it warned:

One official Kiev, Anton Gerashchenko, said: "In the night, the BUK system from the missile-which was Launched was removed to Russia, where it is likely to be destroyed . "

But BCAT is not one trick. Not only demonstrates the unique truck just to resurface in rebel territory, also could see the conscious BUK platform later in the Russian Kursk convoy July. Russians apparently do not destroy evidence.

Further, we see something on the picture that resembles a kind of tank, a vehicle that is hidden from view by a net. Oddly enough, the image of the front of the truck is very sharp but the back part of the covered launcher, become blurred and barely apparent.

The photo of Paris Match, start of the track trail and alleged links to Russian involvement

We shall show later that the extended version of the track trail theory very well come true.

Other problems with the picture emerge:

. Place: The photographer and the editor would take the picture in Snizhne (as published in PM on July 25), and not in Donetsk, a mistake BCAT and 'Ukraine_at_war' for them ' straighten ':

b. Time: Problems with determining the moment at which the photo would be made, are resolved by Higgins usingSunCalc , an app created by Kiev-resident Vladimir Agafonkin. Based on analysis of the shadow of the truck the time can be conveniently put at 11 o'clock in the morning.

c. Authenticity: From the original source, the freelance photographer for Paris Match , we hear nothing more. He wishes to give information and to anonymously stay .

3. The dark sources of Makiivka, Torez and Snizhne

The track continues with a report from Makiivka and a video from Zuhres, which now appears to have been removed from YouTube. Fortunately BCAT the photos. A screenshot of the original video will be displayed showing the unique Volvo.

Now it gets interesting. From the BCAT report on the route followed by these sources pg. 5-8 :

1._StradivariuS_ viaBuzzing_Rook, first reported in Makiivka 
2. @ Spice4russia, first reported in Shakhtarsk 
3. WowihaY, 2 notifications in Torez 
4. Ruslan Nasadyuk on Vkontakte (Russian twitter), first reported in Torez (with photo) 
5. @ MOR2537 novel, first reported in Torez 
6. GirkinGirkin, First reported in Snizhne (with photo)

The message from Makiivka by the tweeter directly passed on what seems to be the hub of virtually all the evidence surrounding social media and Torez Snizhne, including the so-called smoke plume from the BUK-launch (see section 4). It isWowihaY, alias Vladimir Djukov. Djukov also appears involved in, a website frequented mainly by pro-Kiev supporters.

Remarkably speak source of Makiivka andWowihaY openly about a "BUK". Djukov has even explicitly about '4' rockets. One might wonder to what extent seemed remotely identify a covered, tank-like construction with precision as a launching pad Buk-containing four missiles.

The rather one-sided and outspoken political affiliation of these sources can easily be traced by means of the organizations and individuals that they follow on Twitter. Which appear to be mainly ultranationalist far-right pro-Kiev organizations and fighters.

GirkinGirkin, Account name Igor Girkin, an account referring to the Russian rebel leader Igor Strelkov Girkin alias. This Girkin however runs on the extreme right-wing pro-Kiev contacts and has a background picture on his profile which makes a gruesome scene of WWII suspect.

WowihaY Itself among more faithful follower of Pravy Sector ( PS ) and reports on his profile that he is an 'Ultra Pravosek' is (extreme supporter of PS). On another profile says he saw politics "ultra conservative" to be, and that "God exists because I have seen him!" Djukov is a man with a sacred mission.

On Vkontakte shows Ruslan Nasadyuk a profile photo of a sign figure with soldiers helmet (inscription: "Thank Ukraine) and Ukrainian colors, typetje used for identification more often by ultra-nationalists.

Strikingly Nasadyuk according to his LinkedIn page, graduate engineer in telecommunications and computer technology (and has specialized in English - an interest that clearly on his Vkontakte page emerges). Also Vladimir Djukov aliasWowihaY is interested as a social media profile, in particular for computers, networks and digitalimaging , though he also shows keen interest in geolocation (see section 4a).

Picture Prove presence truck with BUK in Torez on July 17, 2014 must show around 12:30 pm

Nasadyuk's photo was moreover appointed initially by SBU chief Gerashchenko as coming from Snizhne but was later BCAT employee Aric Toller located in Torez. BCAT claims in the report that the earliest version of the photo would be posted around 20:09 pm, but then knows the time of printing shade analysis "restore" at 12:30. So the evidence fits neatly inside the place and timing that a credible BUK-track trail would have to reconstruct.

Former chief prosecutor and detective-German writer Gabriele Wolff writes on her blog that the photograph is probably false. The original source is never found (Nasadyuk would have picked him as BCAT a subsequently closed group on Vkontakte). And:

1. The weather in the picture - sunny - does not match the weather in Torez of that day (cloudy); 
2. The German secret service has it as false stamped in their Bundestag statement; 
3. The combination appears to be in the picture copied .

There are even more considerations:

4. The truck appears to be in the wrong direction with respect to the road to the alleged launch site;
5. There are no witnesses who saw the combination on July 17; 
6. There is no longer material, not even from the same source.

The only message that has no connections with Ukrainian ultra-nationalists was done by Anna Reshtanenko on Vkontakte. She says, however, three 'tanks' to see. The existence of the column of three tanks will be confirmed only by reporting 4., Roman @ MOR2537, a member of the pro-Kiev club from Torez that before July 17, 2014 was already in contact with each other. At no footage is also discerned such transport.

In itself may also pro-Kiev do ultras actual observations. But contrary can be argued that the political similarity of almost all witnesses it is remarkable, given the clear importance they have as self-proclaimed resistance fighters to engage the rebels and the Russians in the blame. In addition, both the Ukrainian government as self-supporting right-wing extremist shock troops, co-defendants in this case.

The pictures of reports 4 and 6 are, as well as the video of the lone BUK in Snizhne (see below) and the picture of the plume (section 4), within no time on the website of the SBU. This rapid clearance does directly suggest. That contact could also quite possibly have been reversed. Both in the information sphere as in the PR is the usual politically sensitive information by bringing allow reliable 'third parties'.

Spindle Djukov would his website, his relationships with ultranationalists, have strong convictions and are quick transfer to the SBU recruited quite possible be the Ukrainian secret service. The same could apply for Nasadyuk that his political passion, know-how, academic training and useful knowledge of English would be an extraordinary asset for a secret service. Of course, it remains to speculation.

Back to the track trail then. The SBU place in the evening of 17 July a video of the BUK which at Snizhne own the afvuurplaats would drive. The images shown may not be inferred that it is the same platform as is visible on the other pictures. Also is not sure:

'Note: In the first video above, the Buk is mounted on a truck. It does not Appear to be so in this second video, so there is a chance thatthey are different units . "

In reality, it would seem to be a normal tank.

Later, on the Russian border (see section 5), the platform would only resurface at the same unique Volvo with the blue stripe. Only then is really to see that it is a BUK-platform, because the alleged murder weapon is suddenly uncovered and indeed lacks a missile.

In this way closes the track trail through rebel territory as it began: with a very happy coincidence.

4. Afvuurlocatie Snizhne, or somewhere around

Now the conscious platform is driven independently to his place, BCAT trying to confirm the official story of the Ukrainians and the US that the Buk by the rebels would be somewhere around Snizhne fired. There is a witness problem. Nobody seems to be the launch of the rocket, something that is hard to miss is , to have seen. It is the reason behind the call for witnesses of the JIT, only nine months after the disaster.

a. Three 'Tatort's'

Fortunately for Kiev, BCAT and the Western media resurface two highly reliable proof suppliers: Ukraine_at_war andWowihaY.

Three hours after the disaster is distributed a picture on Twitter of a barely visible plume of smoke puffs that will ultimately promoted to the main and only image evidence that would be a BUK fired around Snizhne . It turns out to be an old acquaintance that places the photograph, namely the man from Torez interested in editing digital photographs,WowihaY. Quick also follow placement on the website of the SBU. The creator of the picture is later identified as Pavel "Pasha" Aleynikov, according to his twitter accountrescuero even a person with persistent Kiev faithful ultranationalist interests.

At night following a feverish attempt to determine the exact location of launch using the smoke plume. Ukraine_at_war notes :

Now the funny thing isWowihaY That made a very similar calculation as I did. In the middle of the night at 1:27 He Has already leg tweeting about it !!!

Ukraine_at_war geolokaliseert the launch site in a wheat field 5 km south of Snizhne. That designation is taken immediately by BCAT. It is remarkable that Ukraine issuing a statement with evidence for a different location. From now famous' intercepted telephone conversations "would indicate that the Buk would be fired from Chernukhino .

The confusion is complete when Der Spiegel , newspaper Algemeen Dagblad and Correct! v several months later designate a field 3 km north of Snizhne, based on verifiable evidence and not incidentally, a caterpillar track.

There are now three places as a location in circulation is actually all relying on the initial US statement on July 17 that they would have radar evidence to launch a BUK near Snizhne.Incidentally, the US has never been this serious material transferred to the public and, according to a CIA source of investigative journalist Robert Parry still the question what and who the US satelliteshown .

b. The burnt field and caterpillars

Also in the supporting evidence emerges the emerged discrepancy. Roland Oliphant, the Daily Telegraph , found in a cornfield south Snizhne traces of caterpillars and a fire that raged would have after shooting the BUK. Der Spiegel sees in a field on the northern side 'for a tractor too wide' traces of tires .

Weapon Expert Rupert Smith says in the article Correcti v! the shooting of a BUK just barely fire traces yields :

"The missile is Launched out of a fireproof container, leaving few visible burn marks on the ground;the launch vehicle in turn leaves marks on the ground That Are identical to Those of a tank. "

Knows BCAT with the help of researchers from TU Delft based on "suspicious burns" to confirm the launch site on the southern spot .

Even now exist again conflicting stories that are supported by mutually exclusive directions. Again, the evidence is again butter soft and based on an idea fix that sends toward confirmation.

Whoever indenkt the tanks caterpillars were abundant at the front of Snizhne, witnesses obviously popping heard in the area (there a plane crashed) and a fire in a parched field may have been caused numerous ways, should have an idea the sorry state of this evidence.

c. The plume was not a launch

The story of the launch plume will later on RTL Nieuws confirmed by researchers from Delft they inschakelden for this purpose. From that advertises itself as a researcher Daniel Roman BCAT-employee department plume .

Roman is trying with all his knowledge to demonstrate the veracity of the plume and calculates using ingenious proof techniques accurately to the desired outcome far. But its findings are quickly contradicted by forensic expert Charles Wood.

After Wood's comments are erased BCAT site (later reinstated ), grabs a Dutch blogger and MH17 researcher, Max van der Werff, on the matter. On his website he gives Wood the views, as well as his own findings. It turns out everything wrong with the photo and the methods of Roman:

"Bellingcat photo proof is spoof . "

For open BCAT is an important problem that needs to be solved. The photo was posted three hours after the disaster really shows a clear sky in a sunny day. The situation on the ground has been really cloudy. But there is also provided a second picture, one with clouds.

This photo plume, according to interviews Aleynikov gave taken from the roof of his apartment, also some cables cluttering the foreground, because the camera would have geautofocust thereon. Van der Werff said in spot investigations show that those cables (bothersome) exist and would be placed in the picture to mask other tampering.

"BUK launch photos are cheats '

The evidence is again seriously questioned, especially after the researchers come up with a new explanation and refuse to reveal the so-called RAW files and transfer the specifications of the used camera. The "plume photo-war currently raging in all severity . For the die-hards is to recommend an old debate about these photos on the blog of Wolff once more in depth .

5. dubious SBU movie at Kransnodon later Luhansk

Immediately after its release on YouTube on July 18 raised doubts about the authenticity of the video that an employee of a secret police surveillance team would have shot the flight with the alleged murder weapon towardsRussia .

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry put the material itself as primarily towards Krasnodon. But then Ukraine_at_war with a reversal:

"Ukrainian Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov, made ​​early claims That the video was filmed in the Ukrainian town of Krasnodon near the Russian border, However collaborative geo-location was bootable to place the footage in southwestern Luhansk. "

Even so, it took another juggling with time and / or place in many people's doubts away. Some believe that the geolocation of the picture is wrong , others claim that it was going to another truck.Moreover, the timing of recognition can not be verified.

In this article gives a nice summary of raised doubts.

Next logical question is why there is no more material:

If the Secret Service knew there was a truck with missing rocket passed there, why did we not made more content, such as a border crossing?

And why is truck carrying a platform on which clearly visible lacks a rocket, no material available from the launch site in Snizhne and Luhansk. Or between Luhanks and the Russian border?

More cautious this imported Dutch blogger, but he also recognizes that there are many doubts .

Doubt turns into serious suspicion of fraud Focal -journalist Vincent Verweij demonstrates that the filmed position in Luhansk West in the night of 17 July 18, not even under the control of the rebels would (could) have been.

There is supporting evidence for the video, namely the wiretapping of the Ukrainian secret service that appeared in the witness call of the JIT. A senior Russian officer as would 'volunteer' in the transport of the BUK across the border are involved .

Remarkably, of course, that in the intercepted phone calls, including a discussion with the relevant officer of the Russian army, still clearly "BUK" is called a contaminated communications of the enemy, monitored by his secret service. Apparently the Russians have advanced weapons, but no secure command lines and instructions for secrecy.

6. The Russian convoy Putin did it!

BCAT shows in their own words on social media evidence that the conscious BUK-launcher is the end of June would have been in a Russian convoy training. The serial number would clear would be the same as appearing in a photograph of the BUK in rebel territory .

On that picture in which the BUK part of the convoy, only the first and last digit recognizable (the BUK therefore '3? 2 "or" 3 × 2 "called).

The picture seems to be that noticeable where the middle number would have to be performed a correction. The color is slightly different from that of the immediate surroundings and is also much more even coverage.

BUK 3 × 2. Doubts about the central figure out the track trail good

That's something that convenient. Platform Serial 312 was known that it was in Ukrainian hands.

Although Higgins much work makes the murder-BUK plant in the Russian convoy - with names of drivers and units there - the actual spindle evidence is thin. The only image that this platform links to the Russian convoy June is actually the famous photograph of Paris Match .

According Bellingcat the agreement between serial and BUK BUK in Russian convoy in Paris Match photo clearly

Higgins tries the (unobservable) serial number on the Paris Match photo overwriting with the same figures of the platform from the Russian convoy, to suggest agreement therewith.

Now one understands why the difference in sharpness in this photo as suits. The picture is sharp where they should be sharp - because of the unique blue stripe on the truck to be recognized in other materials - and it is unclear where necessary and helpful.

In reality, the picture is just too faint to observe an agreement and is actually in the picture whatsoever to see anything with a serial number.That means of course a firm blow to the track trail theory, because the only link between alleged BUK and Russians is actually amissing link .

It is a problem that Higgins will also realize and thus is another ingenious method out of the hat, the so-called side-skirt fingerprinting . The dirt tracks and flap above the tracks of the conscious vehicle, according to this method in a very unique profile crystallize so that they are comparable in various pictures. Indeed. Now the BUK evident from the convoy also BUK in rebel territory. It is magic of the highest order.

One respondent noted that " Skirt is soft and can look absolutely different profile by speed or wind (...) It's reinforced rubber similar to That used on truck mudflaps as can be Clearly seen in thisphotograph . "

Thirdly, it can be said that over the tracks at the Paris Match photo even hardly a flap. Only with a lot of suggestion and a strong desire to be perceived similarity between the BUK from the convoy and the alleged BUK in rebel territory. On both is at BCAT apparently no shortage.

In July Russian convoy, the convoy in which the murder weapon after his heinous act would be reinstated, we can be very short (for a review see Gabriele Wolff ). Of Higgins also claims all of his instructions " not in any way conclusive 'are. His main clue is that BUK platform is covered in the convoy with a net on photographs, as was the case during the ride to Snizhne in the alleged murder weapon. Such a network would never be used otherwise.

Very vague instructions from not very accurate methods are converted into hard evidence - basically an observation that applies to a lot of evidence in this case.


The conclusion that can be drawn in Section 6 for BCAT appears to be very little need to want to risk a major international conflict. Actually, it is unbelievable that all Dutch media call uncritically behind the track trail theory, given the many shortcomings, doubts and dubious evidence ex pressed into evidence.

To summarize:

1. There are two conflicting scenarios that claim the rebels and give their Russian helpers opportunity to handle the murder weapon. Both contradictory claims are proven using social media with a probability bordering on certainty.

2. The Paris Match photo, beginning of the track and link to the Russian involvement, is stiff with dubiousness. The image is dualistic, with sharp left and right very blurred. Also, time and place are filled by people other than the original photojournalist. Moreover, the anonymous photographer will give any information.

3. Almost all the other evidence of the track trail through rebel territory is based on material provided by the SBU either through a small group of extreme right-wing ultranationalist Kiev supporters (WowihaY, Stradivarius, spice4russia, GirkinGirkin and Roman already in twitter contact before 17 July ). The pictures of the launch plume (Aleynikov) comes from the contacts of ultraconservative Kiev-partisan Vladimir Djukov aliasWowihaY. The photo of the parked BUK in Torez (Nasadyuk) possible false by the SBU material submitted.

4. On many images worked to perpetuate the appropriate timeframe. From any source with the Volvo is to verify an original date. Material of a self-propelled tank-like construction, it is difficult to observe as a BUK. About the pictures of the launch plume is much debate. The SBU video of the truck in Luhansk is dubious and as focal journalist Vincent Verweij a "propaganda set-up.Furthermore, there is no supporting documentation of the flight or of a border crossing.

5. There are three competing sites around Snizhne identified as a possible location of the murder weapon, all three are supported by a comprehensive analysis of research or testimony. What binds them mainly, is the statement that the White House shortly after the disaster issued that satellite evidence would be that the rebels would have fired a round BUK Snizhne. That statement is disputed by an anonymous source in the US intelligence community.

6. The proof techniques (including geolocation, shadow analysis, side-skirt fingerprinting and social media analysis) are buttery soft and very susceptible to wishful thinking, suggestion, cherry-pickingand selection bias .

When methodologies that are meticulously occur, possess ingrained biases or rely on the wrong starting positions, it is not surprising that with seemingly very precise measurements a very erroneous result. For example, one can calculate a afvuurlocatie through a plume of smoke or a fire place. But if the plume is simply not launch rail or a burned field has not been put on fire by BUK, has therefore accurately attributing any evidentiary value.

The extended track trail theory leaves many unanswered questions, questions that can only be answered is adopted as a special degree of stupidity by the Russians. They would for example not destroy evidence, communicating about contaminated communication lines of the enemy clearly highly classified information and openly with the murder weapon through Ukrainian territory controlled flights to the Russian border.

The motive remains unclear. Whether the Russian generals left subordinates with a stand-alone BUK playing Russian roulette in the airspace or a preconceived needs, but irrational plan would have to shoot a Western commercial aircraft out of the sky.

There nevertheless remain not much credible scenarios when it comes to the question of who for whatever reason has brought down a civilian aircraft. The rebels (and Russian helpers) are definitely suspects, but it seems clear that the truth should not be sought in the evidence of Bellingcat. Maybe the media it also can be convinced.

Russia Changes Wikipedia entry about MH17 ( 19-07-14 ) 
Flight MH17: Blame gaming more important than storage? ( 21-07-14 ) 
Show Process: Timmermans in toga ( 28-07-14 ) 
The enigmatic universe of Rutte and Timmermans ( 01-08-14 ) 
Investigation team ignored local salvors ( 04-09-14 ) 
Preliminary report: Fact and fantasy ( 12-09-14 ) 
State indicted on emergency flight ( 10-10-14 ) 
'Danger airspace Ukraine was known ( 03-01-15 ) 
Injury for the government ( 27-01-15 ) 
Sleuths make disaster flight MH17 beating ( 14-04-2015 )

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