WASHINGTON, July 22 (UPI) -- While last week's crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in rebel-held Ukrainian territory was followed by a steady stream of information, some of it lurid and conflicting, Russian media provided its readers and viewers with alternate narratives on what occurred.
"These aren't competing narratives from two equally credible sources here," said Marie Harf, U.S. State Department spokeswoman. "The Russian government has repeatedly put out misinformation and propaganda throughout this conflict in Ukraine, so I would caution you from saying that these are two equally credible sources, although you're happy to report it that way, but I would take issue with it."
Igor Girkin, a leader of the pro-Russian separatists, conjectured the plane was filled with dead bodies when it crashed, noting what he claimed was a large amount of blood serum and medications at the site of the wreckage.
"A significant number of the bodies weren't fresh," Girkin said he'd learned, telling the Russian news website Russkaya Vessna the bodies were drained of blood. The rest of the world is convinced 298 people aboard the Boeing 777 were alive when it was struck by a surface-to-air missile.
Russian Army Lt. Gen. Andrey Kartopolov claimed, on the day of the incident, Russian radar spotting a Ukrainian air Force fighter jet approaching the Malaysia Airlines plane.
"Its standard armament includes R60 air-to-air missiles, which are capable of locking and hitting targets from 12 kilometers (7 miles) and which are guaranteed to hit the target from the distance of 5 kilometers (3 miles)," Kartopolov said. Ukraine has denied the claim, and Kartopolov's statement belies use of a surface-to-air missile to bring down the plane.
An unidentified analyst told RT (news channel Russia Today) the Malaysia Airlines plane was on a similar route as the plane of Russian President Vladimir Putin on his return from Brazil last week, saying, "The contours of the airplanes are in general similar, the linear dimensions are also very similar and regarding the coloring, from a sufficiently long distance, they are practically identical."
Another Russian online news portal, Gazeta.ru, noted Putin no longer travels in Ukrainian air space.
Alexander Borodai, self-styled rebel leader of the "Donetsk People's Republic," has claimed his separatist forces lack the firepower to bring down the plane, although Ukrainian and Western intelligence said rebels had control of a Russian-made missile system formerly part of the Ukrainian military's arsenal.
Of the trail of evidence on the Internet pinning the blame for the crash on his own forces, Borodai told CNN, ""t's very easy to refute it. Almost all information that comes over the internet is practically all lies."