Sergey Dubinsky, 54, a retired Russian colonel, has confirmed he ordered a surface-to-air missile launcher into position before plane was shot down
- But he denies pulling the trigger himself, blaming the ‘b******* from Moscow’
- Serhiy Tiunov, a friend who took Dubinsky’s confession, says the colonel’s life is now in danger because he knows the identities of the men responsible
- 298 people were killed when the Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down in 2014
There are fears for the life of a key witness to the MH17 plane disaster after he laid blame for the disaster squarely on Moscow.
Sergey Dubinsky, 54, a retired Russian colonel, confessed through a friend that he was responsible for moving a Buk surface-to-air missile system into place before it was used to shoot down the Malaysia Airlines plane in 2014.
But Serhiy Tiunov, a pro-Ukrainian who took Dubinsky’s confession, says the colonel denies being personally responsible – instead blaming the ‘b******* from Moscow.’
Everyone on board the plane, 298 passengers and crew, were killed after it was shot out of the sky. It is thought Russian-backed rebels fired at it after mistaking it for a Ukrainian military plane.r
Ukrainian secret services confirmed shortly after the incident that they had intercepted audio from Russian military channels of a known Red Army commander ordering a missile system into position before the strike.
Dubinsky aka Khmury (Grumpy) had already been unmasked as the man behind that voice, but Wednesday’s comments mark his first significant account of the incident.
At the time, he was head of military intelligence for the self-proclaimed and pro-Putin Donestsk People’s Republic.
During the conflict in Ukraine, Dubinsky and Tiunov had met several times, and the colonel had freed a number of Ukrainian soldiers captured by the rebels.
Tiunov said: ‘I could not stay calm (and I told him) it is you who hit the Boeing passenger plane like gangsters!
‘I saw the expression on his face and felt that he was hurt, and took it very personally.
‘He said: “You think I did it myself?”
‘Then he pointed his finger at the heavens and said: “It was done by b******* from Moscow!’
‘It was hard for him to talk about it, he had to make excuses. He is a military man after all, not a gangster.
‘It was clear for me, he understood that he was linked to it and that he was partly guilty in the death of civilians.
‘So he quickly ended our conversation.’
The revelation – if true – destroys the Kremlin’s version that the plane was shot down by Ukrainian forces, and suggests a Moscow cover-up to hide the truth.
This Russian claim had already been rejected by an international probe into the disaster, but would mark the first denial from a source close to the Kremlin.
‘Such people just don’t survive in intelligence. He was fighting in Donbass (eastern Ukraine) as a soldier.
‘Yes, probably, he received a criminal command from his commander.
‘But I am 100 per cent sure – if he had known that it was a passenger plane, and if he had controlled the launch of the missile, he would have never chosen to kill civilians.
‘What’s more, this is what I heard from him in person: “It was done by b******* from Moscow!’
‘And now he is pictured as the most guilty man. I don’t accept this.’
He stated: ‘He is a key witness, but he is not a murderer.
‘And he is my friend. I want him to stay alive. I believe he did not press the button of that Buk, he only coordinated its movements.’
The secret radio chatter that implicated Dubinsky
Independent analysis by Swedish experts confirmed that the high probability that it is Dubinsky’s voice (D) that can be heard in conversations intercepted by the Ukrainian SBU secret service.
One conversation with a man nicknamed Buryat (B), went as follows.
On 17 July 2014 they discussed where to position the Buk complex that would later be used to shot down MH17.
B ~ where shall we load this beauty?
D ~ which one? This one?
B ~ the one I have brought. I am already in Donetsk (in eastern Ukraine)
D ~ this ~ is what I am thinking about, right? The one called M?
B ~ yes-yes-yes, Buk, Buk.
D ~ and she is up there, on a tractor truck?
B ~ yes~ we must unload it somewhere, in order to hide.
D ~ is it with a crew?
B ~ yes, with a crew.
D ~ don’t hide it anywhere. It will soon go there – I will say now where it has to move. It will go together with Vostok tanks.