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Russian State TV Edits Wikipedia to Blame Ukraine for MH17 Crash

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Breaking News. Image: GoodManPL (Pixabay).

A day after a horrific plane crash in eastern Ukraine claimed the lives of nearly 300 people, speculation about who is to blame for shooting down the aircraft is in full swing. Leaders of Ukraine, Russia, and even the separatists in Donetsk have all placed responsibility on each other. In Kyiv, President Poroshenko blamed rebels in the east and criticized Russia for destabilizing the border. In Moscow, Vladimir Putin claimed that Kyiv is accountable for anything that happens in Ukraine. Donetsk’s putative leader denies any role in the attack on Malaysian Flight MH17, saying it must have been the Ukrainian Air Force.

Unsurprisingly, the blame game is now playing out on Wikipedia, where editors battle to record the polemics that best reflect their side of the story. Earlier this morning, the Russian-language Wikipedia entry for commercial aviation accidents hosted one such skirmish, when someone with an IP address based in Kyiv edited the MH17 record to say that the plane was shot down “by terrorists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic with Buk system missiles, which the terrorists received from the Russian Federation.” Less than an hour later, someone with a Moscow IP address replaced this text with the sentence, “The plane was shot down by Ukrainian soldiers.”

Thanks to a Twitter bot that tracks anonymous Wikipedia edits made from IP addresses used by the Russian government, we know that the second edit to the MH17 article came from a computer at VGTRK, the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company.

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Written by Kevin Rothrock

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