Russia’s top rating news program has launched an extraordinary attack on Prime Minister Tony Abbott and hinte¢d he is part of a “cynical” and “deliberate” western plot to blame Russia for the MH17 tragedy.
The attack aired on Russian state channel ORT at the top of its national evening news bulletin in a special report by Mikhail Leontyev, a well known pundit with close links to the Kremlin.
It comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin joins other leaders in Brisbane this weekend for the G20 summit.
“We know that at the summit in Brisbane Australian Prime Minister Abbott is threatening to ask our President some tough questions about the Malaysian Boeing. Let’s try to help him,” Mr Leontyev said.
The report then showed what Mr Leontyev said were photos taken by a non-Russian low-orbit satellite and obtained by ORT. Mr Leontyev said the photos showed a Ukrainian Mig 29 fighter jet shooting an air-to-air missile at the exact time and place MH17 was shot down. He said this was consistent with Russia’s preferred version of events that a Ukraine military jet shot down MH17.
He said that there was no evidence for the claim raised by Abbott that MH17 was struck by a ground-to-air Buk missile fired by pro-Russian separatists. “There was most likely no Buk and no launch,” he said.
Mr Leontyev then returned to the satellite photos and addressed western leaders. “Gentlemen, you have these photos or others. Why wont you show them to us? Show your cards. Because at the moment we have every reason to believe that state crimes have been committed by those who deliberately and cynically destroyed the plane and by those who deliberately and cynically are hiding that fact, even though they have all the information.”
The broadcast is the first time Russian state television has covered the conversation between Mr Abbott and Mr Putin in Beijing this week where Mr Abbott said he had evidence that MH17 was shot down by a ground-to-air missile launcher operated by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, which returned to Russia after the accident. Mr Abbott asked Mr Putin for compensation and an apology.
Western investigators say the plane was likely hit by
shrapnel from a surface-to-air weapon
MH17 was shot down in July, killing all 298 people on board including 38 Australians.