Russia-controlled militants in Eastern Ukraine took Kharchenko into custody so that “Ukrainian special services wouldn’t reach him”.

Leonid Kharchenko, one of the key suspects in the case of the shot down Malaysian Boeing of the flight MH17 over the occupied territories of Ukraine, was arrested in Donetsk. This happened two days after the trial in the case of the plane crash began in the Netherlands, reports the BBC, citing a source related to the DNR military commander in 2014-2015, as well as information from a colleague of Kharchenko.

The first hearing in the MH17 case took place on March 9, and on March 11, Kharchenko was detained near his home in Donetsk, sources said. After that, he was arrested in a completely different criminal case. Last week, Kharchenko’s arrest was extended for another two months. One of the sources said that now the former military spy is in the pre-trial detention center of a so-called DNR.

Kharchenko’s colleagues told reporters that they wanted to isolate him.

“The accusations are ridiculous – alleged participation in an illegal search in 2014 and illegal possession of weapons,” – said the interlocutor of the Russian branch of BBC, familiar with the case. He added that the victims had no claims against Kharchenko on the first count.

“According to the second – this gun was issued to him in 2019 by the Ministry of State Security to ensure personal safety in connection with the case of MH17,” the source added.

According to a colleague of the arrested, Kharchenko was taken into custody so that he would not be abducted by the Ukrainian special services.

“Until recently, Kharchenko lived quietly in Donetsk and had no idea that this could happen to him,” said a former colleague of Kharchenko’s. In the summer of 2019, the special forces of Ukraine took the former DNR rocket launcher Volodymyr Tsemakh to Kyiv. He was also considered an important witness (or even a suspect) in the story of the MH17 crash, the article says. The journalists sent a request to the “DNR Ministry of State Security”.

In the summer of 2019, an international investigation team identified the first four suspects in the case of the death of 298 passengers and crew of flight MH17. Three Russians were named – Igor Girkin / Strelkov, who at the time of the disaster was the “Minister of Defense of the DNR”, Sergei Dubinsky, who headed the “GRU DNR” and Oleg Pulatov. Leonid Kharchenko, a citizen of Ukraine, became the fourth key suspect.

The investigation recognized the priority version of the tragedy of the defeat of the Boeing 777 missile from the Beech installation. According to the investigation, “Buk” belonged to the 53rd anti-aircraft brigade from Kursk. Experts also said that in 2014 the installation was delivered to Ukraine, and after the tragedy, it was returned to Russia.

Natalia Tolub

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