Leaders, mourners blame Russian president

Leaders, mourners blame Russian president

As grief turned into anger in the country with the most victims on MH17, one word on the front page of a Dutch newspaper said it all.

"MURDERERS", screamed the weekend headline of the major Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

The Dutch, from its leaders to citizens, have hurled collective fury against one man: Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Throughout the world, leaders and mourners have sought to blame Mr Putin, even as they appeal to him to help allow some dignity to the dead and use his influence over Ukrainian separatists to provide a safe path for investigators to the crash site. But so far, Mr Putin has refused to budge.

The Netherlands lost 193 citizens on MH17, scores of them children.

"Russia risks becoming a pariah state if it does not behave properly," UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in a TV interview on Sky News.

"We now need to use the sense of outrage that is clear to get a further round of sanctions tightening against Russia, with further steps as well, if the Russians do not comply with the requirements that the whole international community now places upon them."

The crash site at Grabovo, in a part of Ukraine that is under the control of pro-Russia separatists, is providing a focal point for global anger as armed rebels hover over the investigation, making the reclamation of wreckage and corpses more difficult.

Limbs and bodies are still scattered around the area and governments are pleading with Mr Putin to be allowed greater access to take the remains home.


Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has described pictures of Ukraine rebels digging through the possessions of people killed in disaster as "disgusting".

Mr Rutte said he had a "very intense" phone call with Mr Putin.

Mr Putin now "has to show that he will do what is expected of him and will exert his influence".

"It is 35 degrees there. The bodies need to be recovered now. I want to see results, unhindered access and the repatriation of the victims."

Mr Rutte himself has not been spared.

"Put away the diplomatic words, Mr Rutte. This is slaughter, why are we being so nice to Putin?" said Mr Hans Hoofte, an Amsterdam local.

The Telegraaf wrote: "The Netherlands should be banging its fists on the table... The cabinet needs to make it clear to the world that we are seething with anger. This is terror, a war crime, mass murder!"

A columnist from another Dutch daily, Trouw, wrote that the Dutch streets are empty of protest but warn that the tragedy has hit the country so hard it could be a turning point in the Ukrainian armed conflict.

"Otherwise, those 298 deaths of flight MH17 will be nothing more than useless accidental victims of violence,'' Trouw said.

Bloomberg news agency pointed out in a commentary that Mr Putin risks "Pariah" status as pressure mounts in the aftermath of the crash.

US Secretary of State John Kerry was backed by leaders from Britain, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia and France - as well as Ukraine - in calling on Mr Putin to intervene in getting an international probe under way.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, writing in the Sunday Times newspaper, called for tougher European action against Moscow if Mr Putin did not change tack.

Almost 100 members of Sydney's Ukrainian community demonstrated disgust aimed principally at Mr Putin, with banners declaring "G19 No Russia No Killer Putin", "Putin Terrorist" and "TerroRussian Number One".

This article was first published on July 21, 2014.
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