Poll Finds Most Russians Think Ukraine Shot Down MH17

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Levada, an independent Russian polling publication, has determined that most Russians think Ukraine was responsible for the Malaysia Airlines Fight 17 tragedy.

In a poll of 1,501 people across six large Russian cities, Levada asked "Have you heard about the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in the sky about Ukraine, and if so, why, in your opinion, did this plane crash?  (Multiple answers are possible.)" 

Here's how the results broke down:

  • 46 percent believed the plane was shot down by Ukraine using a missile
  • 36 percent thought it was brought down by a Ukrainian military jet
  • 16 percent weren't sure why it crashed
  • 6 percent thought it was brought down for 'another' reason
  • 3 percent thought it was brought down by the Donbass militiamen [rebels, pro-Russian separatists]
  • 2 percent thought there was a terrorist attack on the plane 
  • 1 percent thought the plane had a technical failure
  • 1 percent thought it was a pilot error
  • 1 percent had not heard about the crash 
  • 1 percent thought it was shot down by Russian military 

Note: because multiple answers were allowed, it does not add up to 100 percent.

These results are in stark contrast to what the rest of the world thinks, and even what the separatists themselves have said. Before news of the crash became so widespread, separatists took responsibility for the attack, though they later said they were not involved. 

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This also ties into what Russian media are telling citizens. On the day of the crash, prominent journalist Sara Firth resigned from RT, Russia Today, as she believed their coverage was not in line with the truth. While headlines across the world the day after the crash were all focused on MH17, Russian headlines skirted around the issue. One newspaper in Russia, Novaya Gazeta, a smaller, independent publication, printed an apology for the crash on their front page. They were one of the few publications to even acknowledge the flight with a front page story. 

Considering how limited Internet service in Russia may become under new censorship laws, there will be fewer and fewer opportunities for citizens to read news provided by outside nations, rather than Kremlin-controlled media outlets. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.