Meet the British intelligence-linked firm that warped MH17 news coverage

In November of 2022, a final judgment arrived in the trial of alleged perpetrators of the attack on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17). Russian nationals Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinskiy, and Donbas separatist Leonid Kharchenko, were convicted in absentia for the murder of MH17’s 283 passengers and 15 crew members. They were ruled to have arranged the transfer of the Buk surface-to-air missile system that reportedly struck the plane.

Oleg Pulatov, the only defendant to seek legal representation during the trial, was conversely acquitted on all charges, which prosecutors will not appeal.

The Malaysian airliner had been purportedly shot down by a missile on July 17th 2014, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew aboard.

Heavily dependent on information supplied by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) and the Western government-funded “open source” investigations organization known as Bellingcat, the guilty verdicts appeared to vindicate an established narrative in which Russia and its Donbas allies were solely culpable. 

But as this investigation will reveal, much of the news coverage of MH17 was heavily influenced by a shadowy entity called Pilgrims Group, which is closely tied to British intelligence. 

Staffed and led by British Special Forces veterans, Pilgrims Group is a private security company offering elite security services to London’s embassies, diplomats, spies, and business interests abroad, particularly in high-risk environments. It also trains foreign militaries and paramilitary groups, and provides protection to reporters and their employers. 

It was in the latter context that Pilgrims Group shaped media coverage – and by extension, official investigations – of MH17. The company had maintained a presence in Kiev since the early days of the US-orchestrated Maidan “revolution” in late 2013, shepherding journalists to and from the scenes of major events in Ukraine. In the process, it maintained control over what the reporters under its watch saw and how they understood the situations they encountered.

As such, Pilgrims Group played a pivotal role in the effort by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) and British intelligence to convict Russia and the Donbas separatists for MH17’s downing. The operation began while the plane’s wreckage remained smoldering on the ground of rebel-controlled territory, and ultimately prevented the initiation of any genuinely independent investigations.

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Author: HP McLovincraft

Seeker of rabbit holes. Pessimist. Libertine. Contrarian. Your huckleberry. Possibly true tales of sanity-blasting horror also known as abject reality. Prepare yourself. Veteran of a thousand psychic wars. I have seen the fnords. Deplatformed on Tumblr and Twitter.

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