The Netherlands is weeping today for 233 passengers who lost their lives when Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 17 was shot down over the eastern Ukraine only one week ago. There were 298 people on that plane. As the bodies of 233 Dutch victims were driven from the airbase in Eindhoven to a military base in Hilversum, thousands of Dutch citizens lined the 160 mile route to pay their respects.
One of the mourners, Rinze van der Ploeg, spoke to an NBC reporter about how he felt. He said the Dutch people were connected. He said that he hoped this event would connect the world and bring peace out of tragedy. Emmy Kattenbelt said that it was important to teach children how to pay their respects when something terrible happens. She blamed the crash on Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, saying that he was a very dangerous man.
U.S. and Ukrainian officials contend that Russian separatists, armed and trained by Russia, fired a Russian-made BUK antiaircraft missile at flight MH 17. One rebel leader told reporters they did possess the technology and it was probably used to bring the plane down. It may have been supplied to them by Russia.
Liudmila Vorobyeva, Russia’s ambassador to Malaysia, said that Russia would cooperate with authorities investigating the crash site, but she did not elaborate. Vorobyeva said that it was impossible for the local separatists to possess Russian missile technology. She went on to say they lacked the training to fire the system. Ordinarily, the United Nations would ask that an investigation of this magnitude be handled by authorities from the crash area, in this case Kiev. The Russian government requested that the Ukraine not take part in the investigation because they believed the rebels would not trust Kiev authorities. Their request was granted, the Netherlands has agreed to spearhead the operation.
Many Dutch citizens are very angry at the Russians as the investigation into the downed plane continues and believe that Russia is delaying the process. Maria Putin, the president’s 29-year-old daughter, has felt their wrath and decided to leave her home. She moved to Voorschoten, a well-to-do village just outside of Amsterdam, one year ago to live with her Dutch boyfriend. One neighbor said that Maria Putin was very quiet. The neighbor went on to say that she was glad Putin left because she didn’t want any trouble in the area. Tempers flared and people wept on Wednesday, a national day of mourning for the Netherlands community. People cried as the first group of bodies touched down on Dutch soil that day. Hilversum’s mayor, Pieter Broertjes, demanded that she be deported; he apologized to Maria Putin shortly thereafter.
Many angry Dutch citizens wrote to President Putin, expressing their anger, their rage and their grief as soon as they found out what Putin was not doing to assist in the investigation. Hans de Borst expressed his grief in writing over the death of his daughter, Elsemiek. He told Putin that she would’ve taken her final exam next year had she lived. He said that she had wanted to go to Delft to study engineering. It would never happen now, he said, because she had been shot down in a war zone in a foreign country. He thanked the separatists for murdering his daughter and asked them if they were proud of themselves.
Today, three days after the crash, while the Netherlands wept for its loved ones, President Putin still allowed only limited access to the crash site. Dutch citizens were mortified, wondering how Putin could allow the bodies of the dead to lie there with the sun baking down on them. Silene Fredriksz-Hoogzand, a mother whose son and girlfriend were killed in the crash, said no words could describe how she felt today.