A journalist from Australia conducted operations on behalf of Ukraine’s Secret Service SBU in rebel controlled territory, a document obtained by The Hague Times reveals. The document ‘Summary of conversation with Demjin DORESCHENKO’ describes what was discussed between officers of the Australian Federal Police and their countryman journalist Demjin Doreschenko in the Intercontinental Hotel Kiev, Ukraine in March 2015.
Journalist Doreschenko claims:
- Ukrainian Border Security stole his computers, money and hard drives and other things. The stolen data allegedly found its way to the MH17 Joint Investigation Team.
- He had a “SBU handler”, a member of Ukraine’s secret service guiding him.
- Dutch DSB and JIT members promised to pay him for his work.
- Dutch law firm Van der Goen Advocaten advised him not to hand over any forensic items to the JIT, but instead directly to them.
What we know about the Australian journalist from open sources.
He is a first generation Australian-Ukrainian, says he was hit with rubber bullets and had stun-grenades hurled in his direction as he filmed and photographed the Maidan uproar in January 2014.
He tells ABC News:
“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 [sec! editor] country, and this is what the government is doing to peaceful protesters.”
In March 2014 he was on a flight from Ukraine’s capital to Crimea, as pro-Russian forces took over the main airport in the Crimean capital of Simferopol, leading to scores of flights being cancelled in and out of the region. Doroschenko to Sky News:
“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.”
Doreschenko was among the first western journalists at the crash site of the Malaysian Boeing flight MH17 on 17 July 2014 and described the “smell of death” and evidence of looting at the site where Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 came down. Doreschenko:
“The site is being patrolled by rebel fighters with guns. They shook my hand and said ‘we’re sorry’. I said, ‘mate …  people died and that’s all you can say? They just looked at me blankly and then they walked away, carrying their guns and grenade launchers.”
The Australian journalist from the very beginning claims to know exactly what happened to the Malaysian Boeing. In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald:
Interviewer: From what you can tell Demjin, who could have done this? Could it have been Ukraine?
Doreschenko: 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 accross the border. It is an act of absolute barbarism and terrorism in my opinion.
Remarkably, the Australian journalist knows about IFF (Identification Friend and Foe) recognition systems, but seems unaware of the fact Ukraine does have modern air defense systems in its inventory.
He claims to know for sure Russia deliberately shot down the civilian airliner from Russian territory, at a time experts around the world where just starting to analyse what could have happened.
Australian Federal Police document dated 4 March 2015 – excerpts with comments
Summary of conversation with Demjin DORESCHENKO, 4 March 2015, Intercontinental Hotel, Kyiv.
Primo 170-470 and 170-401
DORESCHENKO was at the Intercontinental Hotel speaking with members of Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in relation to his Visa.
P. Mr. DORESCHENKO have you got 5 minutes to have a quick chat to us about your computers and your status here?
A. The stuff that got stolen, yeah and money.
P. Do you have time for a chat?
A. I do
Editor’s note: “The stuff that got stolen” Doreschenko is mentioning probably occurred on 7 January 2015. A Russian language site reported:
“Ukrainian border guards detained a 46-year-old Australian native of Ukrainian origin Demyan Doroshenko, at the checkpoint “Georgievka” in the Donetsk region, when entering from the territory controlled by the DPR. […] While crossing the border with ten 7.62 caliber ammunition rounds, two knives, a bulletproof vest, a pass and a journalist’s ID were found among his personal belongings. This served as the basis for his arrest.”
Prior to the meeting of 4 March 2015 Doreschenko was interviewed by Ukraine’s secret service and officers of the AFP November 2014:
P. What we are hoping to talk to you about is your willingness to take part in a follow up witness interview with ourselves and the SBU similar to the one that occurred in November last year.
A. With DSC—, yes
P. Would you be willing to come to the SBU office tomorrow and take part in a witness interview?
A. I’m going back to Debaltsevo tomorrow, leaving early in the morning.
P. How long are you going back to Debaltsevo for?
A. I’ll be there for a week, I’ve got some work to do with the SBU who have requested me to continue on with my work there.
P. You said before something about money?
A. 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.
Editor’s note: Doreschenko said “I’ve got some work to do with the SBU who have requested me to continue on with my work there.”
And: “while they worked out who I was and called my SBU handler and say he’s fine, he’s with us, let him go.”
Note: A Western journalist explaining he has a handler from, and works for, a secret service of a foreign nation.
The discussion continues:
P. Your computer contains information and photographs which are of interest to us. This makes your computers of evidentiary value to the investigation and you as the owner of the computers of interest to the investigation from a witness perspective. We would like to have access to all the information on your computers so we can make any comments based on what we find.
A. So am I right in understanding that the computers that were taken from me back in January and promised their return to me in Kyiv have somehow managed to find their way into the hands of the JIT?
P. The computers have not made their way into the hands of the JIT but we have viewed the contents of the computers and they have been found to contain images that may be of value so it would be unrealistic for you to expect to get your computers back at this time and we need the chance to ask you some questions about them.
A. I see, interesting, it’s a bit of a merry go round isn’t it.
P. Not really, you’ve taken some good photos that is of interest to us, we’re trying to solve this.
A. I worked on the sight* for 5 months.
P. That’s right, your goal and our goal is to solve this thing. If you have got information on those computers that helps us to prove who is responsible for this then I can’t see how it doesn’t make sense to you to come and have a chat to us and tell us what you know and help us so that together we can get somewhere with this.
*) The typo ‘sight’ instead of ‘site’ as in the original document and thus uncorrected in this article.
Editor’s note: The Australian journalist then explains he has problems with the Dutch:
A. But I have a few problems with the Dutch. The Dutch, realizing when they were in Donetsk when I showed them some of the things said I was someone who was not stupid and well versed in forensics and forensic objectives. I told them I had studied forensics for three years since the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes. It is an area I have done a lot of research in and if I wasn’t doing this I’d probably be doing forensic medicine.
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, 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.
Editor’s note: The journalist claims to have spent twenty thousand Euro out of pocket and has assurances from Dutch officials they will pay for his work. He continues:
A. So anyway it went around in a circular way for a while and then on the 26th of November I was contacted by the Dutch solicitors office representing the victims. They said we understand you have items and photographs of the plane crash, we represent a large section of the Dutch victims, we advise you legally because this is mostly a Dutch initiative, that you are not to hand over any items to the JIT and if they want to know why they can talk to us directly.
Editor’s note: it seems extremely unlikely Dutch lawyers representing the family members of the victims would advise anyone not to hand over evidence to the JIT, but instead hand the items over directly to the lawyers.
A. I notified the JIT of this and didn’t get a response.
P. Who from the JIT did you advise?
A. Ah… Chief Inspector Marchand. I believe he is the head of the JIT for the Dutch and he’s one of the most senior policemen in Holland so I’m assuming he would be at the top of the food chain. I didn’t get a response back about what the Dutch lawyers had said to me so everything since the 26th of November has been frozen. So 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.
Editor’s note: What “few more things” precisely Doreschenko collected at the crash site?
P. So that brings up the topics that were discussed in your interview last year, that you claim to have some physical evidence, bits of the rocket etc..and you have a computer full of images. Given what has been said about trying to solve this thing I don’t see the impediment to you participating in the interview and handing over the evidence so we can properly have it examined at put into the brief. Surely we have a common goal going.
A. Yeah we do, I’ve been here a long time, I’ve been promised yes we’d like you to work with us and we’d like to pay you for your services. Are the Dutch going to do it or not?
P. Promises aside, and whether or not you have been promised anything we have an incident on a global scale that has killed hundreds of people
A. 298 to be precise
P. We just want to solve this. I don’t understand why an offer to work with us or to be paid by us is playing on your mind as to whether you’re going to assist us. Surely you just want to assist us because it’s the right thing to do.
A. It’s the right thing to do yes, but I mean handing over intellectual property that I’ve put together over 9 months on the site, if I hand it over what do I have, nothing.
P. How long are you going away for?
A. About 5 days
P. Are you coming back to Kyiv?
A. I have to come back to Kyiv to do another report for what’s going on out there.
Editor’s note: the AFP officer reminds Doreschenko the latter claims to “have some physical evidence, bits of the rocket…”. Earlier The Hague Times published in “MH17 Buk part: Prop or Not?” a document in which two Dutch officers report to have secured four (potential) missile parts in the crash area between 17 to 26th of April 2015. Did Demjin Doreschenko have anything to do with this operation, possibly without knowledge of the Dutch investigators?
P. I know back in November when we had this conversation and you said you’d come back and you didn’t come back. So whilst you’re here I want to take this opportunity to say we’re here, we’re happy to do another interview, we’d like you to take part in an interview. We’d like you to tell us about your computer, we can’t do it tonight because I don’t have anything with me. 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.
Editor’s note: The Austrailian officer then has some bad news for the journalist:
P. 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.
A. So why was I offered by the DSB and the JIT?
P. 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.
A. But I had an interview.
P. You had a conversation with the Dutch recovery team.
A. With Hans.
P. Who is not a member of the JIT, that was told to you in November.
A. He said he was and I have that on tape.
P. He is not a member of the Joint Investigation Team, he never spoke for the Joint Investigation Team, he couldn’t offer you money on behalf of the Joint Investigation Team and I tell that to you again.
A. Okay well why did he say categorically that he was a member of JIT. Why did he do that?
P. I can’t speak for what Hans said, I wasn’t there, I can’t speak to that.
A. I have it recorded.
Is Doreschenko bluffing or does he indeed have an audio recording?
P. Mr DORESCHENKO I can’t speak to that, I can only speak to what the position of the accredited JIT in Ukraine is, of which I am one of the heads. That is not on the table so if we put that aside, what is left for you is a civic responsibility to assist us when we ask and we are asking for your assistance.
A. Ok, so..
P. And we’d like you to do that at some stage, not in a month or two months or forget about it, we’d like you to commit to come back to talk to us about it so we can have anything and we can get on with the interview and you can bring the evidence in and we can get it bagged and send it off for a proper forensic examination.
A. The engine is the smoking gun.
P. Parts of the rocket are trust me so why would you not want to assist in that, would that not be the culmination of what you have done?
Editor’s note: Doreschenko ignores the question:
A. I have to ask one question though.
A. You’re a senior member of the JIT team
P. I am
A. Of which I heard there are 5. Why has the JIT team not come to Donetsk to do the forensic identification of the crime scene?
P. The forensic evaluation of the crime scene will take place when it is considered safe for that to happen.
A. I worked on it for 5 months.
P. That’s fine but you asked me what the official position is and I’ve just given you what the official position is.
A. So it’s ok for me to be there but not you guys.
P. You are an individual doing it by your own choice, you have chosen to go down there and help, we are here as members of an Australian Government contingent, we are bound by what the Australian Government decides is safe for us.
P. And 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.
A. Well this is my country as well and I do work for this country.
P. We’re off target anyway, the target is your willingness hopefully to do the right thing and assist us with some information with products that you say you hold and a discussion about what’s on your computers.
A. 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 by them not to hand anything over to the JIT at all.
P. I’d be very careful about listening to the advice of lawyers supposedly representing the victims when the JIT is responsible for investigating this. That means we are responsible for processing evidence. If you have anything from the crash site, from the victims that has anything to do with this investigation then it forms evidence and therefore we are entitled to have that. For a lawyer to turn around and say don’t hand that over to the police it leave him in a predicament himself, they’re interfering with an investigation. So for you to take the advice of them over us, I would tread carefully.
A. But the issue is under Ukrainian law, the Australian Federal Police has no jurisdiction.
P. No we haven’t which is why we are not compelling you to do anything.
A. Ok, well would you at least let me? 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. So I have to cover all bases. Do you understand?
P. Do what you feel that you have to do Mr DORESCHENKO but this will not go away.
A. I know that.
Editor’s note: the soundbite “victims are suing the Dutch Government” reduces the number of lawyers allegedly involved in the negotiations with Doreschenko. To our knowledge, the only law firm openly threatening to sue the Dutch state was Van der Goen Advocaten.
Then the journalist starts arguing his belongings were confiscated and what JIT had to do with that.
The discussion moves forward:
A. Well, I should have been on the JIT team for Ukraine.
P. Again, can’t answer to that. However, how is the best way to move this forward, what can we do? Otherwise this is just gonna bounce around.
A. Umm, 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.
Doreschenko literally says: “I have my job to do here for the Government.” That is to say, the Ukrainian, not the Australian government.
P. I need a time frame on that, there’s no point having an open book because you talked about this with my colleagues in November and here we are in March, 4 months later and we are still talking about it, this is a conversation you could have had with Alex and Trevor last year and I don’t want to hand it over to the next crew that comes in.
A. Of course, you want to go home with something to be happy with.
P. I’m already happy with what I’ve done here, this is but a small part of it but it’s an important part. I’d like it answered and make you as happy as we can and make us even happier and everybody wins to a degree.
A. To a degree!
P. I did put to a degree in, I didn’t say you were going to get what you want. If you need to disappear for a time that’s fine but I want you to lock in and assure me you are going to come back at a time and a date and present yourself or at least look me in the eye and say I either will or I will not participate in an interview because I can’t compel you and if you look me in the eye and say you know what, I don’t want to take part in an interview then we’re done. You can leave and I will never speak to you again. That is the option I give you, I’m not here to force you to do something .
A. I have always said that I will participate because this is a crime that must be brought to justice and I have never not once reputed that to anybody, okay because it has to be dealt with.
I’m just sorry that I’ve basically been the only man in the field to do the work that I’ve done and it’s unfortunate that you guys have not had the opportunity in seven months. So I am quite happy to participate and this is something that needs to happen. As for a time frame, well that’s an issue, it could be in the next ten days or next 2 weeks.
Editor’s note: The officer keeps trying.
P. We only need a couple of hours.
A. I know. The best I can do is to contact you and I assume you have my contact details, for you to contact me on Monday while I’m running around surrounded by Russians and I can talk about returning to Kyiv at that point. between now and Monday afternoon I’ll be back in the Debaltsevo area, and swinging past the crash site.
P. Which is a crime scene and you shouldn’t be going by.
A. Because winter has subsided and it a good time to continue looking for our little smoking gun.
P. Which you may already have but I can’t seem to convince you of that or to give it to us.
Editor’s note: The journalist then explains “there is still a lot of stuff out there that has been collected”:
A. Another thing to discuss with you guys is that there is still a lot of stuff out there that has been collected over the winter months and I’ll be bringing that back from there to Donetsk and then from Donetsk hopefully back to Kyiv.
P. Because you already have quite a bit of stuff down there is my understanding? and I know you been asked on a number of occasions to hand it over to the Dutch recovery team.
A.These guys will not hand it over to you.
P. No we want you to hand it over to the Dutch recovery team because they are personal items of the victims and it really does need to be handed over so it can be returned to the victims’ families. I know you were asked to do that last year and it hasn’t eventuated.
A. No they stopped talking.
P. I ask you again to make those items available to the Dutch recovery team or to JIT investigators so we can arrange to have those items transported to the Netherlands and returned to the peoples families.
A. And the Australian stuff?
P. All the stuff, everything goes back to the Netherlands for processing.
A. I know it should do but the Ukrainians are saying hand it over to the Australians and split it up.
Editor’s note: One of the officers draws the “being a fellow Australian” card:
P. And I’m saying to you if you want to hand it over to the JIT investigators we are quite happy to take it off your hands and we will send it over to the Netherlands for processing. and that includes evidence, rocket parts, anything else you find or if you have any items of value, personal belonging etc…
P. One thing I can guarantee you, and I can’t speak on behalf of the other organisations involved in the Joint Investigation Team but as Australians, and you being a fellow Australian, if you hand things over to — and myself, I can guarantee you that it will go to the right people. There is no question about that at all.
A. Because I did hand over some items to some AFP guys who were in in 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.
P. I give you the assurance that if you are willing to hand the items over to us we will ensure they are processed correctly and sent back to the relevant families wherever they may be and that includes evidentiary items of any nature.
P. But in saying that, remember that there is an investigation going on so that doesn’t mean they are going to be handed back straight away so going back to your question before about the glasses, chances are they are still part of the investigation. All we can guarantee is that it will make it back to the right people for the right reasons.
A. All I will say is that with regard to the personal items that were collected and there are quite a few, I was able to do so before the weather destroyed any evidence of their existence as has happened now.
Editor’s note: Then Money and the lawyers come up again:
P. So you can understand the importance of them and aren’t surprised that we have asked you to come back. And so I don’t understand why you are holding out on that. I understand money is an issue.
A. Money is not the most important thing it’s the lawyers.
P. 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.
P. At the end of the day Demjin we are just asking you to do the right thing, do the morally correct thing, that’s all, there’s nothing more we can say to you other than that.
A. I will write to Inspector Marchand, I will write to Van de Gough and Advocart in Holland and see what conversations they have had in the past 4 months about this particular issue and if they all agree and then the Dutch Government is put into a multi-billion dollar law suit or something stupid like that which I have been told is quite possible for their mishandling of this whole thing and they can sort it out and if they decide to hand over X Y Z to these guys then that will be the end of it. I have to cover my arse essentially. I don’t want to have some Dutch guys extradite me to Holland to face court over me handing over items that some family members were really pissed off about and now they’re going to sue me for 10 million Euros, I don’t really want that sort of future.
P. It would be a very brave lawyer to sue you over you handing the items over to the investigation.
Editor’s note: Doreschenko wrongly pronounces “Van de Gough and Advocart in Holland”. He means Van der Goen Advocaten.
In April 2016 things take a bad turn for journalist Doreschenko
ABC News Australia reports: ‘MH17 – AFP warns journalist to hand back debris, personal items gathered from crash site’
Demjin Doroschenko, one of the first on the crash scene, formed self-proclaimed MH17 Donbass Recovery Team
He claimed he had already handed some items over to authorities in Kiev”
AFP says it has issued a warning to Doroschenko.”
ABC News quotes an AFP spokesman: “Items recovered from the MH17 crash site should not be used to obtain a profit or benefit,” an AFP spokesman said.
The complete document about Australian Federal Police officers meeting journalist Doreschenko can be downloaded here.
Professional journalists will be horrified knowing secret service assets use their journalistic status a disguise, which the document evidently proves: there was at least one western journalist working for Ukraine’s secret service SBU and for months had free access to the MH17 crash site controlled by rebel forces.
Note: We twice contacted Van der Goen Advocaten in writing, but did not get any reply.
Note: We contacted mister Doreschenko and had an exchange of emails. However, he did not send us any verifiable information. Yet. Many questions remain.
Hopefully our story will continue in a part II.
Author: Max van der Werff