A freelance Australian-Ukrainian reporter named Demjin Doroschenko (lead image), employed by the Australian, British and US press to report from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in July 2014, has been exposed this week as an agent of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU). Reporting to a figure he calls “my SBU handler”, he had been operating in the Donetsk area before and after the crash, and had been spying on groups fighting the Ukrainian regime in Kiev.
In the record of an interview Doroschenko gave to agents of the Australian Federal Police and Australian foreign ministry in Kiev in March 2015, the man admitted he had been paid by the SBU to pass himself off as a freelance journalist for western media in the Donetsk area before and after the MH17 shoot-down. He had met, he said, with Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Dutch police in July 2014, and then again in November of that year, to give them physical evidence he said he had taken from the crash site, as well as purported witness testimony identifying a Russian missile unit as the cause of the aircraft shoot-down. The evidence appears to have been given to him by the SBU.
Doroschenko also ackowledged that he had been trying to sell his information to Dutch police investigators until the SBU confiscated his computer files, and handed them over to the Dutch directly.
The media which paid Doroschenko to report from the MH17 crash scene included the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), a state broadcaster; the Murdoch press in Sydney and in London; Associated Press; and NBC of New York.
Of the 298 passengers and crew killed on board the aircraft, 189 were Dutch; 44 were Malaysia; 27 Australian; 12 Indonesian; and 9 British.
Reporting to the Sydney Morning Herald on July 18, the day after the shoot-down, Doroschenko categorically denied the Ukrainian government forces were responsible.
“They don’t have any weapons like this that could have brought down an airliner at ten thousand meters. No way. So it had to come from the other side and only a very modern weapon system could have done that. I can only think it would have been deliberate, because air defense systems have IFF recognition system so you can tell if it is a military aircraft or a civilian aircraft you are going to shoot down. It could only have come from across the border. It is an act of absolute barbarism and terrorism in my opinion.”
The press reports of the time identified Doroschenko as either a “photojournalist”, a “videojournalist”, or a newspaper reporter. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), he had been born in the Ukraine in 1971, migrated to Australia, and taken Australian citizenship. There is no record of any publication by Doroschenko in Australia before MH17 was shot down on July 17, 2014. He had reportedly returned from Australia to Ukraine at the beginning of 2014, when the US-directed protest movement against the Yanukovich government in Kiev’s Maidan Square, was beginning to attract worldwide press.
Doroschenko told ABC on February 1, 2014, that he himself had been “hit with rubber bullets and had stun-grenades hurled in his direction as he filmed and photographed the demonstrations last month. ‘People who were unprotected were the main targets,’ he told the ABC. ‘I was next to one fellow who was shot in the head with a rubber bullet and he fell like a tree…The plight of Ukraine has often been ignored in the West and we really need to stand up and tell the West this is what is happening in our [sic] country, and this is what the government is doing to peaceful protesters.’”
The ABC made no attempt at the time – or since – to verify what Doroschenko was reporting from Kiev. The state propaganda unit published pictures Doroschenko claimed he had taken. The possibility that their source was a Ukrainian disinformation agent did not occur to the Australians.
On March 1, 2014, Doroschenko said he attempted to fly from Kiev to Simferopol in Crimea as a reporter for the international Murdoch media. He was reported by Sky News as claiming “the plane was told to turn around. We tried to land in Simferopol but that was refused, we tried to land in Odessa but that was refused, so we had to go back to Kiev.”
Doroschenko fumbled his cover story. In Kiev on March 12, 2014, Doroschenko, wearing a yellow vest with press accreditation, told SkyNewshe had been born in Australia and was living in New Zealand.
“V.K Demjin Doroschenko is one of the best know[n] figures in the [Maidan] square but his accent betrays his background. He was born in Australia and is based in New Zealand, but descends from a family that ruled Ukraine at various times over the last century”.
Doroschenko was a “first generation Australian-Ukrainian [who] was in the region working as a freelance journalist when MH17 was shot down,” ABC reported later. “The 45-year-old [in 2016] said he was one of the first on scene and formed the self-proclaimed MH17 Donbass Recovery Team. He said he collected pieces of evidence for ‘safekeeping and out of reach of the forces of the Russian Federation. It needs to be rescued or otherwise the Russians will appropriate any other pieces that they can use in their case against the Joint Investigation Team [JIT],’ he said.”
The ABC did not report how Doroschenko, who speaks English with an Australian accent, came to be in eastern Ukraine at the time, or what his credentials as a journalist were. The media publishers did not suspect, as Doroschenko admitted to Australian government officials in Ukraine at the time, that he was a Ukrainian government employee. The Australian police and intelligence agents were happy for their state media to be printing what they knew to be Ukrainian propaganda.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on July 18 the “Australian journalist” at the site of crash:
“Denjen [sic] Doroschenko, an Australian journalist working in Ukraine, said he had seen about 60 bodies, including several children, many of whom he had uncovered himself… Emergency services on the ground appeared to be ineffective and separatist organisations were ‘sort of in control’, Doroschenko said… Doroschenko reported that pro-Russian rebels had tried to prevent access to the crash site by blocking major roads. He and three other journalists travelled to the scene by car using back roads.”
He quoted “rebel fighters with guns” as apologising to him for what, Doroschenko implied, they had done.
On air on July 18, Doroschenko was asked by a commercial Australian television news broadcaster whether the Ukrainian government was responsible for the shoot-down. He said:
“They [the Ukraine Government] don’t have any weapons like this that could have brought down an airliner at ten thousand meters. No way. So it had to come from the other side and only a very modern weapon system could have done that. I can only think it would have been deliberate, because air defense systems have IFF recognition system so you can tell if it is a military aircraft or a civilian aircraft you are going to shoot down. It could only have come from accross the border.”
At that moment, as the Dutch military intelligence agency MIVD reported later, the Ukrainian Army had several batteries of Buk anti-aircraft missiles in operation in eastern Ukraine.
Doroschenko claimed that “pro-Russian rebels” had “actually apologised” while he was at the crash site.
“Yes, they were filming…They stood with us looking at the bodies on the ground, and just shook our hand and said, you know, we’re sorry.”
“the 43-year-old [in 2014], who has been covering Ukraine-Russian tensions for six months, said he had rummaged through some of the passengers belongings, determined to retrieve personal information including their passports and boarding passes for their families. But he said many of the passengers had items from their luggage stolen and not one wallet found had any money in it. ‘I arrived last night [July 18] when almost no-one else was here so I started looking around the site for Australians,’ Doroschenko said.”
It is now known that Doroschenko was a Ukrainian secret service (SBU) plant in the area who was paid to pretend to be an Australian journalist; report what the Kiev regime wanted to appear in the western press as the Russian cause of the crash; and present evidence from the crash site which Doroschenko had obtained from the SBU.
Doroschenko’s propaganda was widespread in the international media for several days.
“Australian, UK, and US media all made use of Demjin’s services on the day. He was interviewed by ABC (AUS), The Sun (UK), NBC (US), Triple M, News Limited, Seven News, 6PR, The New Daily, Ten News, 3AW, Associated Press, The Mirror. Subsequently, Demjin went on to work exclusively for Seven News in Australia, providing coverage in the aftermath of the event.”
Australian government officials knew Doroschenko was a Ukrainian agent because he told them himself. On March 4, 2015, at a Kiev hotel Doroschenko was recorded in interview with Australian Federal Police (AFP) and other Australian agents claiming to be from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In the official, secret transcript, Doroschenko and one of the police mentioned he had already had interviews with them in July and again in November of 2014. The AFP admitted those interviews with Doroschenko had taken place at an SBU office in Kiev.
“DORESCHENKO was at the Intercontinental Hotel speaking with members of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in relation to his Visa”, reads the header of the document. This was false. As a dual Australian-Ukrainian national, Doroschenko carried two passports, and did not need a visa so long as he remained in Ukraine or returned to Australia.
At his July 2014 meeting with the AFP, Doroschenko claimed he had provided crash site evidence.
“I did hand over some items to some AFP guys who were in in [sic] July some items. We forensically handed them over, that’s how we handed things over. They were quite happy with the way I had forensically dealt with each item.”
The AFP agents were identified as “Alex” and “Trevor”. Doroschenko boasted to the AFP that “in terms of specialisation I’m actually highly specialised in explosives and firearms so you’d be quite surprised by what I can do, my skill set is quite extensive.” The Australian police knew this training – if Doroschenko wasn’t faking — had come from the SBU.
The documentary record has come from the case file of the Dutch prosecutors in The Hague. It is part of the trial of four men, three Russian soldiers and a Ukrainian, accused by the Dutch of firing the missile which brought MH17 down. For the story of the trial, read the book.
The file document, uncovered this week, has been tagged by the prosecutors “Primo 170-470 and 170-401”. The document was reported in The Hague Times, a publication in English, by Max van der Werff. The report, issued on October 27, can be read here. Click to read the full transcript of the interview record.
The press office of the AFP was asked yesterday to confirm the authenticity of The Hague Times document, and to confirm that AFP officers in Ukraine had interviewed Doroschenko in July and November 2014, and March 2015. The AFP replied that it will not confirm or deny the Doroschenko record; it is not disputing the authenticity of the leak.
No Australian newspaper, commercial television channel, or the state broadcaster, which had originally published Doroschenko’s claims from the crash scene, has reported that he has been uncovered as a Ukrainian spy and media disinformation agent.
Doroschenko told the AFP that at the time he was working in eastern Ukraine he was an SBU agent. The Australian police told him this added to the credibility of the information they were asking him to hand over – photographs at the crash scene; records of local interviews; pieces of MH17 wreckage he claimed to have picked up himself. “I’ve got some work to do with the SBU,” Doroschenko told the AFP, “ who have requested me to continue on with my work there.”
In January of 2015, he said, he had run into trouble at a Ukrainian border checkpoint. “When I was taken by the Ukrainian Border Security they stole my computers, money and hard drives and other things. I was promised to get them back, I submitted a complete incident report but nothing has happened since the 6th of January. A similar incident happened on the 17th or 18th of January, while they worked out who I was and called my SBU handler and say he’s fine, he’s with us, let him go.”
“You’ve taken some good photos that is [sic] of interest to us,” the AFP interviewer told Doroschenko. He answered: “I worked on the sight for 5 months.” The AFP transcription misspelled sight for site. The time period Doroschenko was referring to was from July through December of 2014.
Doroschenko added: “I’ve collected a few more things, taken a few pictures, still trying to triangulate where the rocket motor of the BUK is. Have got very close to it, have got physical pieces of the missile as evidence to give to the JIT but the engine is of course the smoking gun, we need it because it has all the serial numbers that will implicate Russia to the letter.”
He was following the script he had been given by his “SBU handler”. The Australian policeman wasn’t sure he was telling the truth. Doroschenko acknowledged he had been trying to sell his services, and also his purported evidence, to Dutch investigators from the Dutch Safety Board (DSB), the Dutch police, and Dutch prosecutors working for the Joint Investigation Team (JIT). “They said that my work was exemplary and we’d like you to work with us and we’ll pay you. That unfortunately hasn’t happened yet although the promises still remain. I spent twenty thousand Euro working on the sight [sic], it’ll be great to get paid by the Dutch and their promise to pay for the work I’ve done which is great. It hasn’t happened and Dutch Safety Board said they would pay as well and that hasn’t happened either.”
The AFP agent replied:
“We’d love you to hand over this evidence that you say you have, we’d love you to hand over the belongings because they might have evidentiary value. We have to get past this. We are not going to pay you, the JIT is not going to pay you. That’s been specifically talked about and I’m here to tell you the JIT will not be paying you for that. And as the senior Australian representative here I am telling you that with absolute fact.” [Doroschenko] So why was I offered by the DSB [Dutch Safety Board] and the JIT? [AFP] I can’t speak for that but the JIT never offered it and I know that for a fact because I’ve been here for a long time too. The JIT never offered you money.”
Record of payment for evidence of the kind Doroschenko was offering to hand over, and of the role the SBU played in recruiting, coaching and fabricating crash site witnesses, has already been revealed in the Dutch prosecution records. The Dutch lawyers in the MH17 trial have failed to use it in defence of the accused, however.
Doroschenko asked the AFP why their investigators did not go to the Donetsk area to search for evidence. The Australian policeman told him he was under orders from Canberra not to go into the region. Both of them understood that Doroschenko was operating undercover as a journalist whose fake accreditation had been accepted by the Donetsk and Lugansk administration authorities.
But that cover was blown when Doroschenko was leaving the Donetsk sector and trying to return to Kiev through the Georgievka checkpoint on January 7, 2015. A Russian language website, Russkaya Vesna, published by the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), reported on Doroschenko’s arrest by Ukrainian border guards.
The report also exposed the Australian government’s involvement in the false journalist operation.
“Through Western media, [Doroschenko] spread false information about Russia’s involvement in the downed plane, and also stated that ‘as an eyewitness’ he watched ‘as militias robbed the property of the dead.’ Earlier, Doroschenko stated through the Ukrainian media that he was a ‘Maidan activist’ and was ‘fighting for the independence of Ukraine.’ He wrote about the alleged ‘violence from the Berkut’ and called on the protesters to ‘retaliate.’”
According to the website report, the Australian Embassy in Kiev tried intervening on Doroschenko’s behalf on both sides of the border. As a result of this contact with the DPR Foreign Ministry,
“for the first time it was possible to find out the name of the detained journalist, and [we] also informed the Australian government and media about the detention of an Australian citizen by the SBU. Only through this did the Australian authorities have to respond to this message. Currently, the Australian media carefully picks up the words that corroborate this fact. Indeed, according to the laws of Australia, Doroshenko can be declared a terrorist (the cartridges found give reason for this) and imprisoned… the official statement of the DPR Foreign Ministry as a specialized state body emphasizes the inadmissibility of detentions and obstruction of journalistic activities in general, regardless of the views, beliefs and political orientation of the journalists themselves. I wonder how the Ukrainian authorities will decide his fate when they find out that they arrested their own?”
From this time on, Doroschenko and the Australian agents agreed, he could no longer go back to DPR territory.
“[AFP] It’s not safe for us right now. Which is why we have given you warning after warning about your own position down there and advised you not to go back and that’s been well documented as well. And again I say you should not be down there, it’s not safe. [Doroschenko] Well this is my country [Ukraine] as well and I do work for this country.”
Doroschenko repeated he was working for the Kiev regime.
“I have my job to do here for the Government, ok? very specific and people with my training don’t really exist in Ukraine. It’s that simple. So after I’ve done this particular task we can discuss this further.”
He also said he was considering selling evidence and testimony to a Dutch law firm, Van Der Goen Advocaten. According to Doroschenko,
“I’ll have to speak to the Dutch legal team representing the victims and their position about what you’ve both said today and they can say we know and yes it’s good or no it’s not and we’ll talk to the JIT and the Dutch Safety Board and we’ll organise something. I have been categorically [told] by them not to hand anything over to the JIT at all.”
At the time in Amsterdam, the principal of the law firm, Bob van der Goen (right), was highly critical of the Dutch Government. Later, he would tell the Dutch press, the Dutch had “completely botched” the investigation. According to Doroschenko, he told the AFP, “I’ll contact these Dutch guys because I don’t want things to blow up and I become responsible for some legal thing because the Dutch have got up in arms about these guys and the victims are suing the Dutch Government and suing the JIT team and anyone else that may be involved in any what they can see as inappropriate actions done by you guys… if they [SBU] decide to hand over X Y Z to these guys [Dutch lawyers] then that will be the end of it. I have to cover my arse essentially.”
Doroschenko was threatening to switch sides if he were paid. The Australian policeman warned:
“Forget the lawyers, you’ve got to remember that lawyers representing the families of crash victims have other motives than just seeing an end result. They will work towards compensation issues and that type of stuff. That is why you have to be very careful about what advice you take from them. They are lawyers not law enforcement officers, they are not involved in the investigation into this crime, we are. So you have to think which ones are you going to trust, the people charged with investigating it or the people representing the families of the people that were killed in it.”
In retrospect, after this interview in March 2015, Doroschenko was discredited as a source by both the Australian police and the SBU. In April 2016, the AFP told Australian state media: “ ‘Items recovered from the MH17 crash site should not be used to obtain a profit or benefit,’ an AFP spokesman said. ‘To do so only harms the families of victims who are looking for a resolution that could be provided by investigators having access to all of the crash site evidence. The AFP and JIT are aware that Mr Doroschenko may have visited the MH17 crash site and have provided him with a process of how he can provide those items to the JIT.’”
The real reason for the AFP warning against Doroschenko was not that he was trying get paid for his evidence. Rather, Doroschenko was threatening to become a witness to the faking of evidence from the crash site by the SBU, the Australian police, and the Dutch prosecutors.
He has since disappeared from print. Whether his silence has been remunerated is not known; he was still alive last week. According to the report by The Hague Times: “We contacted mister Doreschenko and had an exchange of emails. However, he did not send us any verifiable information.”
As the SBU’s conduit of disinformation on the MH17 story Doroschenko has been replaced by the NATO and British-funded Bellingcat group. According to its figurehead, Doroschenko’s evidence of faking of the MH17 evidence should not be believed.
Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.
Featured image is from DWB
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.