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Dutch Interior Minister warns of Russian disinformation

Kajsa Ollongren has warned the Dutch Parliament that Russian efforts to manipulate public opinion remain an urgent threat. This follows the news, revealed by Dutch newspaper NRC, that a prominent Member of Parliament, Pieter Omtzigt, helped a witness to provide false evidence about the shooting down of flight MH17.

The witness statement, drafted by Mr Omtzigt, supported Russia's claims that it played no role in the incident. Even though he was nowhere near the site of the shooting down, the witness claimed that he had seen "other aircraft" in the sky; his argument echoed Russia's theory that Ukrainian fighters had downed the plane. The Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) ruled out Russia's theory in 2016.

Flight MH17 was shot down on 17 July 2014 over Ukraine as it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Everyone on board was killed, including 196 Dutch citizens. The JIT published its interim results in September 2016: the Buk missile that downed the plane was moved from Russia to rebel-held Ukraine in the morning of 17 July 2014, and then returned to Russia soon after.

The JIT has identified around 100 persons who played a role in the events. It hopes to conclude its investigation by spring 2018. The Netherlands and the other countries supporting the investigation have agreed that the perpetrators should be tried before a Dutch court.

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