On 17 July, 2014, a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 flying at 33,000 feet from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down randomly by a Russian-made SA-11 Buk missile while crossing a conflict zone in eastern Ukraine. Two hundred and ninety-eight people, including 80 children, three of them newborn babies, an eminent medical researcher, an award-winning novelist, two Newcastle United football fans and 198 Dutch citizens died instantly. Satellite imagery, radar tracking and communications intercepts showed almost beyond doubt that the missile had come from the rebel-held area. An Associated Press correspondent in Donetsk reported seeing soldiers in Russian uniforms apparently handing a Buk system over to rebels. Ground video apparently shot in the aftermath of the crash showed a mobile launcher retreating rapidly across the border with Russia, with fewer than its normal complement of missiles. Eyewitnesses spoke of bodies raining from the sky. An elderly villager reported finding a dead woman in her bed.
Rebel militiamen then prevented the bodies from being recovered for several days, despite the summer heat; while the flight recorders and other evidence that the missile system could have been supplied by Russia were spirited away over the border. Challenged to explain, President Putin promised, but failed to deliver, measures to protect the crash site; international investigators were kept out at gunpoint. Putin denied involvement and accused the Ukraine government of starting the rebellion against themselves; the pro-Russian rebels insisted it was the Ukraine military that had shot the airliner down so as to throw blame for the conflict on Moscow. The leader of the rebels put out a statement saying that the passengers had already been dead when put aboard the plane. Russian media was unanimous in blaming the USA.
Truth was arrested, thrown in a cell.
Next day they took her for questioning.
After several more days
Of beatings and nail-pulling
Of electric shocks and pain
Of twisted positions and sleep-deprived nights
Truth emerged, blinking and pale in the lights.
“I am a lie”, she confessed, quietly,
To the waiting world’s press.
And the world, unimpressed, passed by.