MH17 investigation: Dutch newspapers react on MH17 report

18:21 Sep. 30, 2016

Dutch newspapers react on MH17 report

In this Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015 file photo, journalists take images of part of the reconstructed forward section of the fuselage after the presentation of the Dutch Safety Board's final report into what caused Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 to break up h

Oleksandr Snidalov analyzes Dutch newspapers and points out the main trends in covering the MH17 investigation

Oleksandr Snidalov looked through the most influential Dutch printed media and analyzed the trends and attitudes. 

De Telegraaf

Circulation: 460 000

Volume: two broadsides (7% of the total surface).

Headlines: "Mixed feelings" and "A little bit closer to the truth"

The photo on the front page belongs to the Russian media "Satellite".

Not having any possibility to deny the materials of the investigation, the Telegraph focused on the intensification of pressure on the Dutch government. The version of the new data about Almaz-Antey, which was quoted extensively yesterday on the website of the Telegraph, obviously had been recognized hopeless and in printed material is hardly mentioned. Instead, the Telegraph shows the situation as if BUK was commanded by Pro-Russian separatists, and not the Russian military. The Telegraph also uses quotes of the relatives of the victims to create the impression that the families do not feel completely satisfied with the progress of the investigation.

The Telegraph puts pressure on the government from the mouth of victims' relatives, demanding speeding up the establishment with all the details of the tragedy. Among other things, they throw in a thesis that it's very important to know if the plane was shot down intentionally or accidentally.  The article concludes with the pessimistic thesis that Russia is unlikely to be prosecuted because of a veto of the international Tribunal and non-recognition of the Hague court. Then there is another attack towards the government in the form of a thesis that the promise of the Dutch authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice has a high chance to remain unfulfilled. The tactic of the intensified pressure on the government apparently will be continued during the parliamentary election campaign next year, when the failure to establish the names of those responsible during three years of the investigation will be used as an argument in favor of the inefficiency of the government.

The Telegraph puts pressure on the government from the mouth of victims' relatives, demanding speeding up the establishment with all the details of the tragedy. Among other things, they throw in a thesis that it's very important to know if the plane was shot down intentionally or accidentally.  The article concludes with the pessimistic thesis that Russia is unlikely to be prosecuted because of a veto of the international Tribunal and non-recognition of the Hague court. Then there is another attack towards the government in the form of a thesis that the promise of the Dutch authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice has a high chance to remain unfulfilled. The tactic of the intensified pressure on the government apparently will be continued during the parliamentary election campaign next year, when the failure to establish the names of those responsible during three years of the investigation will be used as an argument in favor of the inefficiency of the government.

This periodical was one of the most consistent opponents of the Association between Ukraine and the EU. The nature of the publication on the MH17 confirms its reputation as anti-government, populist, and pro-Russian edition.

 Read more Netherlands rebuke Russian ambassador over MH17 remarks

Metro Holland

Circulation: 500 000

Volume – half broadside (2% of the total surface).

Metro reprinted general information about the investigation, recalling that the investigation is considering the possibility of involving Russia as a country or separately, some of the Russians. The article ends with the thesis that Russia published new radar data, in which there are no missiles, and that the investigation still does not have these data. The Commission's position that this data is not likely to affect the findings of the investigation does not appear in the article.

During the referendum, this periodical quite often published articles containing blatant anti-Ukrainian propaganda. The lack of criticism toward Russia gives them away now once more when we are talking about MH17.

 

ALGEMEEN DAGBLAD (AD)

Circulation: 372 000

Volume – 7 broadsides (16% of the total surface)

Headlines:

- "What we all knew: MH17 was hit by missile fired from BUK"- "What we know for sure is that the missile came from Russia"- "Who is in the center of attention: the investigation includes about 100 suspects"- "What is left - to catch the criminals!"

- "The government must act more actively concerning Russia"

- "Why wouldn't Rutte speak out against Putin"

- "There is no doubt: missile is from Russia"

- "The sense is confirmed - they were out of luck"

- "Rutte is in no hurry to call Russia into the ring"

- "Prosecution will need at least 10 years"

AD did MH17 as the main theme of the issue, giving it the entire front, and six broadsides of the newspaper (16% of the total surface). The material is very thorough and covers all aspects, including detailed reviews of the facts disclosed by the investigation, lengthy comments of the relatives of the dead, prognosis of the development of the situation from experts on international relations and on criminal law. Unlike the Telegraph, the AD cites the comments of relatives of the victims and their expressed pleasure with the pace of the investigation, they also call for withdrawing the Ambassador of the Netherlands from Russia and do not believe the possibility of cooperation with Russia, even in case of the international isolation of the last. In general, Russia's attitude is causing a lot of anger to the relatives of the victims. They say they had no idea that Russia had aimed to bring down a passenger airliner, but emphasize that a strong leader must be able to admit his mistakes, while the Russians tend to hide everything under the carpet.

The relatives of the victims accept as logical that the separatists asked for BUK as they were attacked by aircraft, but they believe certain people had to have a closer look at the screen and they are hurt by the fact that Russia probably will never admit this error. In the analytical part, the appeals of the Dutch deputies about the increased pressure on Russia and the position of the Prime Minister, who still prefers to use diplomatic channels to resolve the situation are considered. It is noted that it is important to prevent lifting of the existing sanctions against Russia to have more leverage on it.

Also, they draw an analogy between the MH17 tragedy and the terrorist attack in Lockerbie in 1988. Russia's reaction is shown in such a way that the reader is sure that it is propaganda. In particular, the statements from the Russian side that the investigation should be held again with the participation of the Russian side are presented. Also, there is the opinion of an expert in criminal law that the investigation isn't the hardest part of this case, it's much more difficult to prove guilt in court. It can take years, and today it is impossible to give the relatives of the victims at least some dates when the guilty will be punished.

 Read more Joint Investigation Team cannot blame anyone - Bohdan Yaremenko

de Volkskrant

Circulation - 221 000

Volume – front page and 6.5 broadsides (21%)

Headlines:

- "Closer toward the detection of criminals"

- "Russia becomes suspect"

- "Between vacation photos and soil samples"

- "It is almost impossible to explain to relatives"

- "MH17 and Russia"

- "Rutte can not ignore the role of Russia"

Volkskrant is rather outspoken in its assessments, stating that there is no doubt about the permission from the Russian Defense Ministry on the move of Buk missile system into the territory of Ukraine, occupied by the militants. The edition said that the findings of the investigation confirm the results of the investigation, which was conducted by Bellingcat and even though they are not surprised, but still partly shocking and may lead to a political explosion. Another conclusion of the article is that the investigation leads to the increased tension in relations with Moscow. The newspaper reminds that previously Russia has done everything possible to block the creation of an international MH17 court.

One of the analysts argues that Russia must face the prospect of political or economic consequences if it refuses to cooperate. At the same time, Russia's opinion that the investigation is a speculation is briefly mentioned. Also, it's briefly indicated that the investigation involved nearly 1,500 people, the relatives of the victims are satisfied with the quality of the evidence and that the investigation is looking for additional witnesses. In comments to the situation, the opinion is expressed that the situation is complex from a political point of view, as there is still not enough evidence to directly blame Russia.

Meanwhile, expectations already grow that Rutte will actively encourage Russia to cooperate in the investigation. Putin had the opportunity to admit a mistake immediately after the tragedy but he chose the path of denial of involvement. This position is dynamite under Russia's relations with Western countries.

 Read more MH17 crash: how the story unfolded

NRC

Circulation: 200 000

Volume: 2 broadsides (10%)

Headlines:

- "The evidence is stunning"

- "How long Rutte will be able to remain neutral?"

- "Commission on MH17 goes to the media"

A small amount of information on MH17 from NRC Handelsblad can be explained by the fact that the periodical historically specialized bias more towards economy than in politics. The newspaper tells about the results of the investigation in general terms, and gives the position of Russia, reminding of the new data from radar as well as the statement of the Russian Foreign Minister, who called the investigation prejudiced.

The article focuses on the fact that one of the important issues of the investigation - was an attack on Boeing intentional or accidental - is still left open. The highlight of the article is commenting on the situation from the Dutch officials and the parliamentary parties. The publication cites the words of Prime Minister Rutte in the Republic of Korea that Russia has done everything possible to cause indignation of the investigation and it is very important that Russia stops this policy and starts to cooperate with the investigation in full. The media also notes that some politicians wonder whether the position of Rutte is active enough, considering the circumstances.

Rutte responds to such criticisms that the investigation is not completed and interference in the investigation at this stage can give rise to accusations of political bias in the investigation. Also, they include comments of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who said that in his opinion, the truth about the tragedy of MH17 is closer but it's only an intermediate step. The leader of VVD party sent a request on holding the discussion on MH17 with Prime Minister and the Minister of foreign Affairs participating. The representative of the PvdA party said that his party requires the cooperation of all parties that should be involved in the investigation, and that the lack of willingness to cooperate will have its consequences.

The representative of D66 expressed satisfaction about the fact that the bizarre conspiracy theories that were voiced by the Russian are over. He repeated the idea of his colleagues that Russia must stop confusing the investigation and start cooperating fully. The leader of CDA party believes that it is necessary to establish immediately an international Tribunal for the trial of criminals. He also requires complete cooperation from Russia. The Chairman of the PVV party believes that the Prime Minister Rutte must now hit his fist on the table. He believes that economic sanctions should be imposed on Russia, and the Ambassador of the Netherlands should be withdrawn from Moscow.

 Read more Russia blames Ukraine for falsifying evidence in MH17 case

Trouw

Circulation: 105 000

Volume: 3.5 broadsides including front page (15%)

Headlines:

- "The evidence is there, but the court is still far away"

- "No doubt the BUK is from Russia"

- "Small step on the way to court"

- "What legal ways are available now?"

- "The complex is already in Russia"

- "There is hope that Russia will finally begin to make a contribution to the investigation".

The newspaper gives a general fact about the status of the investigation without going into details. The article provides a quote of one of the relatives of the victims, who believes that Russia continues to distort the truth through the feelings of those who lost their loved ones in this tragedy, and it is shocking. The big question, according to the publication, is where potentially the judicial process could take place, which court should it be and what law should be applied?

The publication quotes the law experts who are pessimistic about the possibility of the trial on the case of MH17. The prospect of the trial in the International Court in The Hague is considered weak, experts believe the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is more promising, and this option is available to relatives of the victims.

The media notes that as soon as Russia has blocked the creation of the UN Tribunal, and the court in Ukraine is not real because of the conflict in the East of the country, the obvious option is the creation of an international Tribunal with the participation of five countries, whose citizens died during the tragedy. The case is referred to as a Tribunal which was created for the attack in Lockerbie. The newspaper believes that if Russia will continue to prevent the investigation spreading disinformation and Putin will continue to deny the involvement of Russia then new sanctions will be inevitable.

Read more MH17 investigation report: full version (with video)

Het Parool:

Circulation: 87 000

Volume: 2 broadsides (4% of the total surface)

Headlines:

- "Rutte remains diplomatic in MN17"

The publication focuses on the fact that Rutte has not resorted to more active pressure towards Russia, and remains diplomatic. There is again the thesis to withdraw the Dutch Ambassador from Moscow. The rest of the material follows the basic facts of the investigation announced by the Commission.

nrc.next

Circulation: 82 000

Volume: 3 broadsides, including front page (10%)

This edition meticulously reprints material from NRC Handelsblad. The reason for this step may be that both of them belong to the same owner.

______

A week ago, I learned that the report of the Commission on MH17 is likely to be positive for Ukraine. Then I tried to predict reaction of Russia and identified the following points as those that will potentially be used by Russia to protect its position:

1) Russia cannot be accused without a fair trial

2) The Netherlands could not investigate because the Dutch government cannot be impartial. The fact that the Dutch government is delaying the decision of the referendum of the Association is an evidence of the collusion of Ukrainian and Dutch authorities. In this situation, the conclusions of the Dutch Prosecutor in the case, where Ukraine is suspected, can't be impartial. One more possible argument is that the investigation should be transferred to Malaysia or Australia.

3) Dutch government — is the puppet of the EU, which talks Ukraine out because of its selfish interest and desire to ransack and colonize it.

4) An additional investigation is required with the participation of Russian investigators to take into account the new information.

5) Ukraine has not submitted all the required information, it means it hides the evidence, so the investigation is not complete.

6) The EU uses the tragedy of the victims of MH-17 for dirty and cynical pressure on Russia.

7) Relatives of the victims are not satisfied with the quality of the investigation

We did not have to wait for a long time - after a few days the first statements of Russia which confirmed the assumptions given above have appeared. For today, Russia has partially used the No. 4, stating that it has new information from radar and that without the participation of the Russian side the investigation is biased. Also partially No. 2 was announced when the representatives of Russia declared that the investigation has allowed Ukraine to forge evidence. At the same time the ancient thesis No. 5 was used. And on the pages of Dutch Newspapers (namely De Telegraaf) No. 7 has appeared.

Read more Investigators call for witnesses on two MH17 crash suspects (audio)

Returning to the statement of Rutte, saying that the government has no plans to ratify the Association agreement in spite of the referendum, which appeared about a week ago, I'll try to explain its causes in the context of MH17. In my opinion, its goal was to get ahead of possible allegations of conflict of interest when public institutions in the Netherlands were involved in the investigation of the case in which Ukraine may be under suspicion, and the government of the Netherlands has an interest in the ratification of the Association agreement between Ukraine and the EU. Rutte rushed a statement on the ratification, in my opinion, in order to take this potential conflict off from the agenda.

 

DISCLAIMER: Review is based on the eight Dutch national media, the largest in circulation.

This is the free newspaper Metro and euro-skeptic De Telegraaph which have a common owner, and their total circulation is nearly one million copies.

Also Algemeen Dagblad, De Volkskrant, Trouw and Het Parool, which also belong to the same owner and have a combined circulation of about eight hundred thousand copies were included in the review

In addition, I included a review of NRC Handelsblad and nrc.next, which also published by one publisher and whose circulation is two hundred and eighty thousand copies.

The total circulation of all titles of a review is more than two million copies. It covers both populist publications and those that sympathize the government, both the liberal and Christian wing, also specialized and tabloids. This suggests that the palette of points of view presented in the review with a high probability covers all the space of the Dutch media, not just print media.

comments powered by Disqus

RELATED NEWS

Press10:32 Dec. 9, 2016
Dutch threaten to sink EU-Ukraine trade deal - Financial Times
Press13:08 Dec. 7, 2016
Corruption allegations and unwillingness to change taint Ukraine military – BBC
Press11:45 Dec. 7, 2016
Ukraine feels betrayed by elusive EU visa-free promise - Reuters
Press16:04 Dec. 4, 2016
Presidential elections underway in Austria - RFE/RL
Press17:01 Nov. 30, 2016
Latvians keep calm but also keep weapons close - DW
Ukraine Today WEEKLY DIGEST
Subscribe to receive regular email updates about Ukraine and Eastern Europe
vk154998