KUALA LUMPUR, July 18:
Reports that downed Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was accidentally targeted instead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plane could not be verified by The Rakyat Post.
Quoting news organisation Interfax, which quoted unnamed sources, Russia Today reported that MH17 was travelling on a similar route as Putin’s jet shortly before the crash.
However, checks on the Interfax website showed no such report suggesting that it could have been pulled out.
“I can say that Putin’s plane and the Malaysian Boeing intersected at the same point and the same echelon.
“That was close to Warsaw on 330-m echelon at the height of 10,100 metres.
“The presidential jet was there at 16:21 Moscow time and the Malaysian aircraft 15:44 Moscow time,” a source apparently told the news agency on condition of anonymity.
“The contours of the aircraft are similar, linear dimensions are also very similar, as for the colouring. At a quite remote distance they are almost identical,” the source added.
Russia Today itself refuted the report by Interfax, noting that it was “the first and the only media source to publish the news” which was contradicted by other reports which claimed that the presidential plane was not flying over Ukraine at the same time.
Online news portal Gazeta.ru reported that although Putin’s plane does take off from Vnukovo-3 terminal, a source said that it does not fly over the area in question.
“Putin has only one jet — Board One, he does not fly other planes.
“This plane always takes off from Vnukovo-3, but the presidential plane has not been flying over Ukraine for a while,” said a source at Vnukovo-3 terminal.
It should also be noted that Putin had mentioned MH17 in passing when he called United States president Barak Obama on Airforce One shortly after MH17 went down.