Rows of empty chairs were placed outside the Russian embassy in The Hague on March 8 in a silent protest staged by the families of those who were shot down with Malaysian Airlines flight 17 over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine. According to reports, the silent protest came on the eve of the trial of four men accused of murder for their involvement. The four men involved in the incident will reportedly not be present at the trial taking place in The Hague.
As per reports, the empty chairs symbolised the absence of the four accused from the court who are believed to be in Russia. Those present observed two minutes of silence and white roses were placed on some of the chairs. Protesters present in the field also held several placards that demanded that the complete truth be revealed and responsible parties are punished.
Media reports suggest that the flight was shot down by a Russian missile sent to by Moscow to help the rebels in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine also alleges Russia of moving troops and equipment in separatists controlled parts in the eastern part of the country. However, the Russian Federation denies any involvement in the incident that took place on July 17, 2014, in which 298 people died. As per reports, a spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Kremlin would wait until the verdict is out, however, it doubted the objectivity of the Netherlands-led investigation.
The Russia and Ukraine conflict started after a series of military actions began in 2014 following the annexation of the Crimean peninsula by the Russian Federation. Reportedly, Kremlin's interest in Crimea is because of the Black Sea and its resources. Russia also has a fleet of the Russian Navy in the Black sea that Ukraine was threatening to remove. The black sea gives an important geopolitical advantage to Russia as it gives Kremlin direct access to the Mediterranean sea, an important crossroads between three continents.
Image Credit: AP