The crash of a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 flight PS752 in Iran unexpectedly gained additional details that require more input to be confirmed but still, given how quickly they were picked up by mass media (mostly, Russian ones), it's impossible to simply leave them without attention.
Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins today focused on a picture from the crash scene purportedly showing a fragment of a Tor-M1 missile.
Higgins, stressed that the origin of the photograph remains to be verified, which won't be easy since the picture is taken in a way that it's difficult to find the source based on geotags.
However, even though the reliability of the photo hasn't been confirmed, Russian media platforms, including public accounts on VKontatke social network and even such major sites as LentaRU, AviaPRO, Rambler, and others, which don't just relay any narratives without the appropriate permission of "patrons" from higher offices, in a matter of hours created an information wave alleging that the Ukrainian airliner was downed by the Iranian Tor-M1 air defense system.
Honestly, I was concerned over the fact that Russian information platforms – not only of the "gray" category, but also of the federal ones – started to zealously disseminate these allegations, imposing them on Ukrainian audiences, which are often too media-illiterate to double check and just keep pushing those like and share buttons. And there's something else that concerns me.
The thing is that the reports emerged exactly after it was announced that the team of Ukrainian experts was being deployed to Iran to take part in the investigation. That's as if someone is pushing them toward a certain version of events.
Russian spins pointing to what appears as guilt on the part of Iran, Russia's closest partner and ally in the Middle East, suggests that it could really benefit Moscow information-wise to play against the Islamic Republic at this moment of time. But why?
It is possible that such a game is due to an attempt to hide own traces in this act of sabotage. Indeed, in the afternoon, before the information about the mysterious Tor-M1 photo appeared, Russian media and pseudo-experts tried hard to accuse some kind of an American spec-ops squad, which is a kind of a Freudian slip hinting at Russia's own involvement, of which I wrote in my earlier piece.
And perhaps the Russian propaganda machine received an ad-hoc but large-scale task to start portraying Iran as a terrorist state, thereby shifting global attention away from Moscow's direct involvement in the MH17 downing, in the year when the trial of first suspects in this case is set to start.
And perhaps this way all the plans voiced are being implemented all at once, who knows?
Anyway, the fact that the Iranian air defense accidentally shot down an airliner that took off from Tehran airport among many other landing and departing planes is absurd, in my humble opinion. However, at times, absurdity is an ideal information weapon.