Russian investigators have obtained proof of a Ukrainian Su-25 attack plane's role in downing a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 in southeastern Ukraine on July 17, Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Interfax.
"Investigators decided not to delay the questioning and met last evening with the Ukrainian serviceman who confirmed that he had voluntarily left his military unit and crossed into Russian territory," Markin said.
"According to the account provided by this man, who is now being treated as a witness and to whom a pseudonym has been assigned to ensure his security, the Boeing 777, Flight MH17, may have been shot down on July 17 this year by a Ukrainian Air Force Su-25 warplane piloted by Capt. Voloshyn of the Ukrainian Air Force," he said.
"The facts and the account that the witness possessed and set out clearly and without confusion have convinced the investigators that his testimony is truthful, which, by the way, has been confirmed by a polygraph test," he said.
"As the witness may be in danger, the investigation is considering granting state protection to him under the witness protection program," Markin said.
The witness also told the investigators of his last days of service in a Ukrainian Air Force unit, Markin said. "Judging by the way he behaved and the facts he presented, the investigators did not have doubts about the witness's sincerity and awareness of the events that took place in this military unit," he said.
The witness said "the combat mission was conducted from an airfield located near Dnipropetrovsk, where the witness served," Markin said. The man said he saw by himself that, before the mission, Capt. Voloshyn's plane had been armed with R-60 air-to-air missiles, which were not normally used on Su-25 planes. "As the witness said, there was no need for such armaments, because the people's militia do not have aircraft," he said.
"The witness immediately took note that, as the plane returned to the airfield, there were no missiles on the plane, and this is when he clearly heard pilot Voloshyn say to his fellow pilot: 'It [a plane] happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time'," Markin said.
"This testimony is very important to the investigation, and, what counts most, it coincides with the information that investigators had obtained from other sources and confirms the fact of a Ukrainian Su-25 plane's presence in the air during the Boeing crash," he said.
"In particular, testimony provided by some witnesses, who are Ukrainian citizens living in the area of the Boeing 777's crash, indicates that, shortly before the crash, they had seen a military plane in the near vicinity of the passenger airliner," he said.
"Therefore, the witness's testimony is not the only, but a very important piece of evidence indicating that Ukrainian armed forces were involved in the Boeing's crash," he said.
The Investigative Committee will continue gathering and analyzing all possible information on the disaster, Markin said. "If members of the international commission investigating this plane crash are really interested in finding the truth and contact us, we are ready to provide them with all materials we have," he said.
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