World

For Russian Media, Donetsk And MH17 Are The New Area 51

Conspiracy theories are circulating among Russian media about what really happened to the plane - all of which absolve Putin of any responsibility.

For Russian Media, Donetsk And MH17 Are The New Area 51
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Relying on Russian media to find what really happened to Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 will net you some interesting answers, like: Ukraine mistook it for Russia's "Air Force One" and shot it down, it had an AIDS vaccine on board, or it was full of dead bodies to begin with and was crashed in a plot to make Russia look bad. (Via Getty Images, LifeNews, Naked Science, Russian Spring)

Conspiracy theories like these aren't just found in wacky tabloids, but are being pushed out either indirectly or directly by larger pro-Russian media outlets such as LifeNews and RT. 

Shortly after the disaster, news agency Interfax cited anonymous sources who said Ukrainian soldiers mistook MH17 for Russia's presidential plane and shot it down. RT then picked up the story, though to its credit, RT also mentioned the story had been contradicted.

Quoting a Donetsk military commander, Russian news channel Vesti suggested some of the people on board had died days before the disaster and noted the mysteriously intact condition of some of the passports.

One of the more out-there theories comes from Russia's News2, which suggests that MH17 is the same plane that disappeared over the Indian Ocean in March, MH370. It was then eventually filled with dead bodies, put on autopilot, and remotely blown up over Ukraine. 

​The general theme of MH17 coverage among Russia's increasingly government-influenced news outlets boils down to one thing: Putin didn't do it. And Western media has a phrase for it. 

"Vladimir Putin's propaganda machine..." (Via NBC

"This propaganda machine..." (Via CNN)

"But a propaganda machine and his network of state-run television channels..." (Via CNBC)

A writer at The New Republic calls this government influence on Russian media a "very problematic development".

"At best, the crash is an unfortunate accident on the part of the Ukrainian military that the West is trying to pin on Russia, which had nothing to do with it; at worst, it is all part of a nefarious conspiracy to drag Russia into an apocalyptic war with the West."

Though a Moscow-based journalist notes how propaganda may simply be what the Russian people desire, writing on The Guardian"For many Muscovites, the ​notion that some sort of conspiracy is nevertheless at work seems almost comforting, like a drug."

The U.N. issued a resolution Monday calling for site access for an international team of investigators who will draw their own conclusions on what really happened to MH17.