A Crude Forgery

“Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and
listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the
truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself
and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3137322.Fyodor_Dostoye / Фёдор Миха́йлович Достое́вский

Russian state TV has broadcast what it claimed to be a photo of the moment Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down by a Ukrainian fighter jet. But many commentators dismissed the image as a "crude fake".

Late on 14 November, Russia's state-controlled Channel One TV www.1tv.ru/news/leontiev/271824 what appeared to be a satellite photo of a passenger plane and a jet fighter in the skies above Donetsk, a separatist stronghold in Ukraine. It was, the report said, the moment the Ukrainian jet fired a missile at MH17. This theory has long been promoted by pro-Kremlin media, and it came to the fore again as President Vladimir Putin was preparing to meet world leaders at the G20 summit in Australia. He is widely expected to face some tough questions over Russia's alleged role in the Ukraine crisis and the downing of MH17.

Channel One said the "sensational photograph" came from a certain George Bilt, who claimed to be a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate with more than two decades of experience in the aviation industry. He emailed it to Ivan Andriyevsky, the first vice-president of the Russian Union of Engineers, the report went on.

"We can assume that the photograph was taken by an American or British satellite," Andriyevskiy told Channel One, "we have studied the photograph in detail and found nothing suggesting that it is fake." The presenter, well-known pro-Kremlin commentator Mikhail Leontyev, agreed. "To fake something like this, you'd have to be an even bigger professional than to have access to this kind of information," he said.

Mr Leontyev also suggested that the timing of the report was not accidental either. "We know that Australian Prime Minister Abbott threatened to ask our president some difficult questions about the
Malaysian Boeing. Let us help him," Leontyev said at the start of the broadcast.

Western investigators say the plane was likely hit by shrapnel from a surface-to-air weapon

Several commentators pointed out that the "Malaysia" logo on the plane from the photograph was https://twitter.com/Brown_Moses/status/533303915123834881/ph (click to expand to full size).

Maksim Kats, a Russian blogger, said the plane in the picture looked like a slightly altered version of the one that tops the search results if you Google "https://twitter.com/max_katz/status/533359491904188416" in Russian.

It also happens to be a www.boeing.com/boeing/companyoffices/gallery/images/commerci of a Boeing 767, not a 777, which was shot down over Ukraine in July.

Others noted that the fighter jet https://twitter.com/AthertonKD/status/533301245642297344 from an Su-25 - the type which the Russian media had consistently claimed shot down MH17.

There were also claims that the shape of clouds in the satellite image proved that it actually came from a Google Earth photo of the area taken on std3.ru/ef/48/1415986904-ef48042a7af999a2c5af0cb219d1e6f4.JP.

Furthermore, those who carried out a reverse image search on Google found that the photograph with the two planes was not so new or exclusive after all: it was first uploaded to a Russian forum obkon.ucoz.com/forum/59-1403-1#6869. Its source was claimed to be "enthusiasts from the Russian wikileaks".

'Crude fake'

The apparent flaws in Channel One's report triggered a torrent of ridicule. Ilya Varlamov, one of Russia's most popular bloggers, zyalt.livejournal.com/1203282.htmlChannel One's claim "a crudely photoshopped fake... just one episode in the information war". "Keep your brain clean, don't watch TV," he urged his readers. And one user on Russia's Aviaforum website aviaforum.ru/showpost.php?p=1634465&;amp;amp;postcount=92: "We'd have a good laugh about it, if the topic wasn't so tragic".