It’s as if a street brawl between two bare-knuckle bruisers is suddenly interrupted by a doctor claiming that a passer-by has been felled by a stray punch and is now dead. In response, one of the protagonists starts beating up the doctor before others can intervene.
Thus the irruption of MH17 into the Ukrainian civil war, literally out of the blue. The first reaction by the Russian authorities seems to have been one of unthinking, knee-jerk support for the insurgents – who deny any claim that they were responsible for the fatal attack on an airliner which happened to be passing by and who treat investigators as ‘spies’ – and an attempt to hide the evidence. In Moscow as at the crash site itself, there appears to be bemusement at the attitude of foreign authorities anxious to reclaim the bodies, treat them decently and find out the answers to all the obvious questions.
What is this? Slav fatalism? Cynical contempt for those unfortunates who just got in the way? Whatever it is, it’s disgraceful public immorality, and should be branded as such by the other, more civilised countries involved, trying to handle this tragedy in an ethical, caring and dignified way.