Kyiv, 19 July 2014 – “Ukraine has all necessary technical capacity to transport bodies of the victims of the MH17 flight, the only problem is to provide security for the experts who need to access the territory of the crash,” said Volodymyr Groysman, Vice Prime-Minister of Ukraine, Head of the government taskforce for MH17 crash investigation, at a briefing in the Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
As of today the most important task of the investigation taskforce and of the Ukrainian authorities is to secure transportation of the victims’ bodies from the location of the crash to the safe territory as well as to provide permanent access of local and international experts to the crash site to ensure full scale, open and transparent investigation of all details of the crash.
«We worked around the clock under the supervision of the President of Ukraine and the Prime Minister. President provided an aircraft to take all international and Ukrainian experts to the crash site. According to the plan, experts from the State Emergency Service of Ukraine under supervision of the OSCE monitors would have a chance to remove the bodies of the victims from the crash site into special cargo-refrigerators and to bring them by railway to the locations for further investigation and analysis. However, we have not received from the militants, who control the territory of the crash site, any guarantees of the security of the experts.”
As of July 19th, 192 bodies of those killed in the aircraft crash were found. According to the official data, 298 passengers were on board of the aircraft, including 80 children. Investigation and search area encompasses 35 kilometers; over 200 Ukraine’s Emergency Service officers and 21 vehicles are involved in the works at the crash site.
According to Volodymyr Groysman, the main obstacle in conducting a proper investigation is constant presence of pro-Russian fighters and their pressure on the rescue officers. “Investigation experts are working at gun point by the armed terrorists.”
Locating and access to the flight data recorders (the black boxes) would be a huge step forward in the course of the investigation. As of now, however, according to Mr. Groysman, there is no information on the whereabouts of the black boxes. Vice Prime Minister does not exclude that the flight data recorders could have been already taken off the site by terrorists.
The government taskforce has met with the ambassadors of the countries whose citizens were killed as a result of a terrorist act. The taskforce has also conducted a series of meetings with international experts. «Experts came to Ukraine to investigate this terrible tragedy and work together on issues of transporting back home innocent victims from different countries of the world,” – said Volodymyr Groysman.
According to Volodymyr Groysman, the taskforce works hand in hand with diplomats of many countries, working groups within the taskforce have been set up and together they work to find solutions. Volodymyr Groysman noted that Ukraine is ready to host and provide free accommodation as well as all other necessary support to the victims’ relatives coming to Ukraine.
Mr. Groysman has noted that the Ukrainian side could not predict the terrorists could use highly technological anti-aircraft defense systems which can hit targets at the altitude of over 10 km for their operations. “Terrorists could not have such weapons by default. We understand, and we have proves provided by our state security office, that this internationally-produced weaponry was supplied to the terrorists by the Russian Federation,” said Mr. Groysman. Volodymyr Groysman noted that in the course of ATO (anti-terrorist operation) such weapons were not used by the Ukrainian armed forces. “I will never believe that an average terrorist can use the “BUK” system, such sophisticated weapons could only be operated by highly professionally trained military servicemen.”