HUNDREDS of people commemorated the first anniversary of a Malaysian airliner being shot down in the east Ukrainian village of Hrabove yesterday.
Some 200 residents of the Donbass-region village held a memorial service and a procession to the fields where the plane hit the ground, killing all 298 people on board.
Donetsk Republic Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko, who arrived at the commemoration ceremony on crutches, accused Kiev forces of shooting down the airliner.
“Any death is a tragedy, all the more so when civilians die,” he said, adding that Donetsk anti-fascist forces did their best to help the investigators and the victims’ families.
“We are still willing to help those people who will, in the end, uncover the truth and make sure that the criminal illegal authorities of Ukraine who allowed this tragedy to happen will be punished.”
Alexander Hug, deputy head of the OSCE monitoring mission in Ukraine, was one of the first international observers to reach the crash site a year ago.
Speaking in Kiev yesterday, he said he was shocked at “how little has changed. Ordinary people in Donbass, like the 298 on board MH17, continue to die and suffer.”
Kiev regime President Petro Poroshenko repeated his frequent allegation that the Donbass anti-fascists and Russia were to blame, saying the flight was the victim of a “terrorist attack launched from the territory occupied by Russian-backed militants.
“The advanced weapon with which (the) aircraft was shot down could have come to the hands of terrorists only from Russia,” he claimed. “It would not have happened without the participation and an order from top political and military leaders of the neighbouring state.”
In Australia, Prime Minister Tony Abbott unveiled a plaque in Canberra commemorating the 40 Australian victims of the atrocity, which he also blamed on Russia.
In the Netherlands, relatives of the 196 Dutch victims held their own service.
Ukraine’s parliament voted yesterday to call nationwide local elections in October, excluding the Donbass.
Elections in the anti-fascist controlled east of the country are a condition of the February ceasefire agreement.