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May 26, 2017

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Russia airs conspiracy theories concerning jet

MOSCOW--Russia's state-controlled television on Friday wheeled out conspiracy theories to explain the Malaysian air crash including one holding that it was a bungled attempt to down President Vladimir Putin's presidential jet.

After Putin said that Ukraine was responsible for the crash, Russian state television focused on several theories that pinned the blame accordingly.

"The aim could have been Plane No. 1," Russia 24 television said, referring to Putin's presidential jet, quoting an Interfax civil aviation source as saying the logo on the Malaysian plane's wing "looks like the Russian tricolour."

To back up the claim, it aired television footage of a hawkishly pro-NATO former Ukraine defense minister, Anatoliy Grytsenko, saying someone should kill Putin.

The president returned to Moscow on Thursday from a tour of Latin America, and his plane and the Malaysian liner both flew over Eastern Europe at roughly the same time, Channel One television noted.

Television reports also centered on an alleged second plane that several witnesses said they saw at the scene.

Channel One cited a local resident who said she saw another plane fly off as the Malaysian jet burned on the ground.

"One plane fell and the second one flew over to the side, towards Dnipropetrovsk," she said.

"It's possible that in (her) words is the solution to the mystery," Channel One's news anchor said, suggesting that the second plane was involved in the liner's crash.

She said the second plane could have been a Ukrainian armed forces plane which was then downed by the rebels shortly afterwards.

"So far we don't know where the plane is and what happened to the pilot. Local residents said they saw a person parachuting down in the area of the tragedy," she said.

Casting doubt on Ukraine's suggestion that the rebels were behind the crash, Channel One stressed that the Kiev authorities "fully control the situation in the air."

It also suggested that Ukraine's announcement of a terrorist attack came suspiciously soon after the event.

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