Russia’s propaganda machine isn’t waiting for an independent investigation to determine what happened to Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. Russia’s state-owned media has already developed a couple of theories to explain what happened to the fatal flight, and they’re determined not to let the facts get in the way of good storytelling.
In what appears to be a nod to the country’s proud history of morbid fiction, news organizations with close ties to the Kremlin have floated some bizarre yet creative conspiracies to explain the downing of the commercial airline, which killed 298 people in eastern Ukraine on July 17.
If the deadly crash weren’t such a tragedy, the Russian propaganda would be laughable. In any event, here are some of the more outlandish theories from the land of Tolstoy and Chekhov.
Flight MH17 was carrying corpses
Some Russian media have reported that many of passengers aboard MH17 were dead long before takeoff.
“A large number of corpses are not fresh. The people died several days ago,” wrote Igor Strelkov, a separatist leader in eastern Ukraine, after his troops inspected the crash site.
Strelkov reported that his men saw a lot of medical supplies and blood formula, which is “not common on passenger flights.” He claimed MH17 was carrying “special medical cargo” and cadavers, not living passengers.
Ukrainian Army tried to shoot down Vladimir Putin’s plane, but got confused
“The Ukrainian missile might have been aimed at Putin’s plane,” read the July 18 headline of an article published by Russia Today, a state-owned TV channel in English.
Quoting an anonymous source, the TV channel suggested that flight MH17 had the same flight path as Putin's presidential plane, which was returning from Warsaw, Poland, on the same day. Since both planes have red, white and blue markings, Ukrainians might have fired on the wrong plane in an attempt to assassinate the Russian president, Russia Today speculated.
Well, not really. Never mind the fact that it’s nearly impossible to see the markings of a plane flying 33,000 feet overhead, but records show Putin’s plane didn’t actually fly over Ukraine that day. Nice try, Russia Today.
Ukrainian Air Traffic Controllers Diverted Plane, Then Ordered it to Descend into Missile Range
According to one report, published in Russian media outlet Life News, Ukraine air traffic controllers told the pilots of flight MH17 to divert their flight path 186 miles north, and then ordered them to descend the plane into missile range over eastern Ukraine. The story gets even nuttier: according to Russia Today, the Ukraine air traffic controller on duty was a Spaniard named “Carlos.” Que malo, Carlos.
Here are some other gems from Russia’s propaganda machine:
American troops are fighting in Ukraine
U.S. soldiers and tanks are fighting in Ukraine. Russian separatist leader amateur crash site inspector Igor Sterkov claims he and his troops in eastern Ukraine are fighting American troops who “speak English” and are armed with heavy artillery, including four Apache attack helicopters.
“Around 20 tanks with American and NATO flags have entered…the soldiers speak English…”, Stelkov wrote on his social media account.
The involvement of the U.S. military in Ukraine probably comes as news to the U.S. military.
The U.S. and Europe are plotting gay parades in Ukraine
The U.S. is planning to invade Ukraine, and then neighboring Russia, and impose gay parades.
According to Russian media, the U.S. and its Western allies are plotting a way to foist American lifestyle, democracy, consumerism — and yes — gay pride on Ukraine and Russia.
This comes as a shock to pro-Russian separatists, whose ideology is an eclectic mix of Orthodox Christianity, Soviet nostalgia and hatred of “liberals.”
The U.S. alleged gay agenda is more than these guys can handle.
This photoshopped image appeared on the twitter of a famous Russian actor, Ivan Okhlobystin
Ukrainians elected a Nazi government and are killing civilians.
Russian media claims Ukrainian government is burning down cities, killing civilians and innocent children, and occasionally beheading them for good measure.
Ukrainian soldiers have tattoos of swastikas, which is a prerequisite to join the army, according to Russian media reports.
When Ukrainians kill Russians (or other Russian-speaking Ukrainians), they cannibalize their dead bodies, and harvest organs. Those are the lucky ones — captured Russians are put into concentration camps, according to Russian media.
This supposed Ukrainian cannibal-soldier is actually an actor on the set of the Russian movie, We Are From the Future
These are the reports broadcast daily by mainstream Russian media outlets and social media accounts orchestrated by Kremlin.
While Russian media reports sound ludicrous to non-Russians, the news is repeated and shared so often in Russia it appears to taken at face value by many.
This picture appeared in a Russian newspaper, which claimed that the Ukrainian army bombed the city of Donets