Kiev-based air traffic controllers unlawfully handed over control of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 aircraft to their Dnepropetrovsk colleagues before it was downed in the Donetsk region in July 2014, says Andriy Purhin, the speaker of the popular council of the self-proclaimed Donetsk people's republic (DNR).
"We have recorded the fact of the Boeing's unlawful handover from Kiev-based air traffic controllers to Dnepropetrovsk ones. The control handover was not documented by Dnepropetrovsk, although this handover in fact took place. Then the Dnepropetrovsk-based controller changed the Boeing's course by three degrees and effectively directed it toward a battlefield. The plane so found itself within the engagement zone of Ukrainian Buk [surface-to-air missile systems]," Purhin told Interfax.
The DPR is actively collaborating with international experts, he said.
"We have passed all this information to international experts, helped them in their work in any way we could, and shared all information known to us, including the fact that control of the Boeing was handed over from a Kiev-based to a Dnepropetrovsk-based air traffic control center," he said.
Purhin said he was aware of a report by Russian engineers published in Novaya Gazeta. "I said [about this] long ago, and I told experts about this theory. We have aired this on numerous occasions. And besides, Kiev had prepared media coverage for this before the Boeing was shot down," he said.
A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. All the 298 people on board the plane were killed. The most probable theory behind the disaster holds it that the airliner had been shot down by a surface-to-air missile fired from the conflict zone in Donbass.
The DNR leadership has repeatedly denied its role in downing the plane and insisted that it was intercepted either by a Ukrainian warplane or a Buk surface-to-air missile system.
Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin said in late March that there was no evidence that the Buk system that could have been used to destroy the Boeing in July 2014 belonged to Ukraine but that it was determined that this system had first entered Ukrainian territory from Russia and was then returned to Russia.
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