Portrait of the week

The MH17 disaster

26 July 2014

9:00 AM

26 July 2014

9:00 AM


David Cameron, the Prime Minister, told Parliament that President Vladimir Putin of Russia should end his country’s support for separatists in Ukraine, some of whom it had provided with a training facility in south-west Russia. Licences to export arms to Russia were found still to be in place. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, announced a public inquiry into the death of the Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB officer who died in 2006 in a London hospital after he was poisoned with polonium. Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, was criticised by some MPs from rival parties for appearing on television sampling tequila instead of somehow doing something about the crisis. Prince George of Cambridge celebrated his first birthday.

Peter Clarke, the former counter-terrorism chief, in his report on the so-called Trojan Horse affair, said there had been ‘co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action, carried out by a number of associated individuals, to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos into a few schools in Birmingham’, and that officials failed to act on what they knew two years ago. The Home Office does not know if more than 175,000 people who have no right to be in Britain have left, according to a report by the National Audit Office. Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz asked why 20 officers were used to arrest, at her daughter’s wedding in London, a Colombian woman who had worked for seven years as a cleaner for Mark Harper, the former immigration minister. Nick Griffin resigned as leader of the British National Party after 15 years.

After its defeat by India in the second Test, England began to look around for a captain to replace Alastair Cook. Steven Gerrard announced his retirement from international football. The Commonwealth Games got under way in Glasgow, with a raised race track at Hampden Park and a shooting centre at far Carnoustie, past Dundee. Estimate, a racehorse owned by the Queen, tested positive for morphine.


The political temperature of the world rose after a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 (flight MH17) from Amsterdam bound for Kuala Lumpur at 33,000ft was brought down over rebel-occupied Ukraine with the loss of all 298 aboard. Of the passengers, 193 had Dutch nationality, 43 Malaysian, 27 Australian, 12 Indonesian and ten British. The wreckage was scattered over nine miles near Grabove, near the Russian border. It showed signs of external attack. Igor Girkin, leader of the Donbas separatists, posted on a social media network a claim that they had downed a Ukrainian military aircraft. He later claimed ‘a significant number of the bodies weren’t fresh’. A mobile Soviet-built Buk missile system was blamed for the attack by Ukrainian and American officials, and by David Cameron. President Putin blamed Ukraine.

Investigators from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe were denied free access to the crash site for two days. The flight recorders were eventually handed over to Malaysian authorities, who sent them to Britain to be analysed. A train bearing remains of 200 bodies was despatched to Kharkiv before being flown to Holland. The Dutch opened a war crimes investigation. European foreign ministers merely extended a list of Russians against whom economic sanctions would be imposed. The United States called on Russia to stop the war in Ukraine. Fighting continued. A pine tree planted in Los Angeles in 2004 in memory of George Harrison died after an infestation of beetles.

More than 600 Palestinians, mostly civilians and many of them children, and 30 Israelis, two of them civilians, were killed in 14 days of fighting as Israel attacked the Gaza Strip, primarily, it said, to destroy tunnels and launch sites for the many missiles fired against it. UN officials said 118,300 people had taken refuge in its shelters. Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, visited Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and said that ‘military action will not increase Israeli security in the longer term’. He called on the Palestinians to eschew violence and recognise Israel. John Kerry visited Egypt and called for a ceasefire. Rival militias resumed fighting for Tripoli airport in Libya. Isis told Christians in Mosul to convert, submit to a tax or face the sword; monks were evicted from the 4th-century monastery of Mar Behnam. The US military allowed Bradley Manning, now known as Chelsea Manning, serving a 35-year sentence for giving secrets to Wikileaks, to receive hormone treatment for gender reassignment.      CSH

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  • globalissues

    Such a terrible tragedy tragedy