Downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17: The four wanted for murder

Top: Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinsky. Below: Oleg Pulatov and Leonid Kharchenko.
Top: Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinsky. Below: Oleg Pulatov and Leonid Kharchenko.

International investigators have charged three Russians and one Ukrainian with murder over the 2014 shooting down of Flight MH17 above rebel-held eastern Ukraine in which 298 people were killed. Here are the four suspects named by the Dutch-led team on Wednesday.

IGOR GIRKIN

Also known by his pseudonym Strelkov.

The most high-profile suspect.

The former Russian intelligence agent, with fighting experience from Chechnya to Yugoslavia, claims to have kick-started the war in eastern Ukraine as the commander of pro-Moscow fighters that captured key locations around the region in April 2014. Some 13,000 people have been killed in the conflict since it began.

He was squeezed out of the separatist leadership later that year under mysterious circumstances and returned to Russia, where he lost all influence.

On Wednesday, he denied that pro-Russian separatists were behind the missile attack.

He is thought to be living in Moscow.


SERGEY DUBINSKY

Nicknamed Khmury.

He reportedly met Girkin when he fought in the first Chechen war in the mid-1990s. He is also a veteran of the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan.

 
 

At the time of the downing of MH17, Dubinsky was allegedly serving as the intelligence chief of the separatists in eastern Ukraine.

According to the independent Bellingcat website, he had "requested the delivery of a battle-ready BUK missile launcher" - the type of missile investigators said downed the plane.

The website also said he was "involved in the removal of the BUK back to Russia". He reportedly resides in his native city Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia.


OLEG PULATOV

Nicknamed Gyurza, after a viper snake.

Pulatov is a former Russian army officer.

In 2014, he was one of Dubinsky's deputies at the heart of the separatist military leadership.

He allegedly helped transport the BUK system to Ukraine and, after the downing of the Malaysia Airlines plane, ensured the safety of the area where the MH17 debris fell.


LEONID KHARCHENKO

Ukrainian citizen. Nicknamed Krot.

Kharchenko was also linked to the separatist leadership when the plane was downed.

 
 

According to Bellingcat, he was involved in "securing the BUK missile launcher near the launch site" and could have also coordinated the transport of the missile launcher from the main city in separatist eastern Ukraine, Donetsk.

According to Ukrainian media, Kharchenko is wanted by Kiev for the siege of government buildings and his role in helping the rebels.

Ukrainian security services on Wednesday said they had "no information" on Kharchenko's whereabouts.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2019, with the headline 'The four wanted for murder'. Print Edition | Subscribe