Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott yesterday warned Russian President Vladimir Putin he will not be able to avoid a “conversation” over the loss of Australian lives in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine.
Last month Abbott vowed to “shirtfront” the Russian president at the G20 summit in Brisbane next week, although Moscow has yet to respond to his request for a bilateral meeting.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev responded to the rhetoric by saying Putin was a judo black belt and that “serious politicians should choose their words carefully.”
Shirtfronting is an Australian rules football term in which a player charges an opponent.
“He won’t be able to avoid the conversation, so one way or another we’re going to have the bilateral — whether it’s in the corridor or in a more formal setting,” Abbott told the Australian newspaper.
However, he said he did not want the G20 to be overshadowed by their rift, with government sources saying the pair could instead meet at the APEC summit in Beijing that starts on Monday.
“What I won’t be doing is disrupting the sessions of the G20 with a private argument between Australia and Russia,” Abbott said. “But I am seeking a bilateral with him at the earliest possible opportunity, which will be a chance to emphasize how important it is to Australia — and indeed to The Netherlands, Malaysia and all the other countries that had people on MH17 — that there be full cooperation with the investigation. And if criminal prosecutions loom, full cooperation with them.”
The Malaysia Airlines passenger jet was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July, killing all 298 people on board. Most of the dead were Dutch, but 38 Australian citizens or residents also perished.
Australia — along with the US — accuses Russian-backed rebels of shooting down the flight using a missile supplied by Moscow. Russia has repeatedly denied the claim and pointed the finger at Kiev.
Abbott’s comments came as Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte arrived in Australia — on a Malaysia Airlines plane — to discuss the MH17 tragedy and work on ways to bring those responsible to justice.
Investigations have been hampered by problems accessing the crash site as clashes continue nearby between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists.
Rutte said a lull in fighting allowed a small team to reach the area last week and again this week and that more remains had been found.
“Luckily, conditions allowed a small team to visit the crash site and that will mean that we can again transfer to the Netherlands the found remains of victims following the usual ceremonial protocol that will take place on Saturday,” he said.
Rutte met Putin in Milan, Italy, two weeks ago and said he made clear demands on unimpeded access.
“I used the opportunity again to tell him that I expect him to do everything he can to put pressure on the separatists to allow unhindered access to the crash site,” Rutte said.
“To work with the Ukrainians to do what will be only natural and acceptable which is for Australia, Malaysia and the Netherlands and the other countries being involved, to bring back the remaining remains, the personal belongings and to do our investigation,” he said.
An initial report issued in September by Dutch investigators found MH17 was hit by multiple “high-energy” objects, apparently backing up the missile theory. The report did not apportion blame.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread