Russian general in MH17 probe named
A high-ranking Russian espionage chief is reportedly a person of interest in the MH17 disaster investigation.
The BBC, Russia's The Insider and Dutch-based news outlet Bellingcat are reporting that FSB Colonel General Andrey Ivanovich Burlaka is connected to the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17, which killed all 298 people aboard, on July 17, 2014.
The international Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which includes Australia, made a public call to identify a Russian official known by the pseudonym Vladimir Ivanovich in November.
The three news organisations used extensive searches of phone records, travel data and voice-comparison technology to establish that the Russian official is Colonel Gen Burlaka, the FSB Border Service's chief of operational staff.
Comment has been sought from the Joint Investigation Team and the Dutch Public Prosecution Service.
The JIT said last year that a then-unidentified official authorised weapons movements across the Ukraine-Russia border and would have had oversight of the Buk-TELAR missile launcher used to down the civilian airliner.
BBC reported that Burlaka is two rungs below FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov, who reports directly to President Vladimir Putin.
The broadcaster also said that after 2014, then Lieutenant General Burlaka received a Hero of the Russian Federation title, the highest honour of the country, and was promoted to general colonel.
Four men have been charged with murder and the destruction of a civilian airline by a Dutch court due to their alleged co-ordination of the missile launcher used to bring down the plane.
They are Russians Oleg Pulatov, Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinsky and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko.
Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that Dubinsky told friend and Ukrainian militia leader Sergei Tiunov in September 2014 that he was not responsible for the MH17 tragedy and that: "The bastards from Moscow did it!."
Girkin hinted on chat group VK monitored by Bellingcat last year that the Russian government was at least partially responsible for the disaster.
"In The Hague they expect only me and three more uninvolved (in the downing of MH17)," he wrote on November 17.
"No one there is asking for VVP (Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin). Nor about those who changed the Boeing's route from Kyiv towards Snizhne."