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Author`s name Michael Simpson

Ukraine Pays No Compensation to Relatives of Victims of Downed Passenger Plane

A Ukrainian missile downed a Russian jetliner on October 4, 2001, above the Black Sea
Relatives of the passengers and crewmembers of the Tu-154 jetliner, which was flying from Tel Aviv to Novosibirsk, have not been paid any compensation as of yet. The plane, owned by the Russian airline Sibir, was downed on October 4th, 2001, by a Ukrainian S-200 missile that had been launched during a military exercise of the Ukrainian ABM system in the Crimea.

The crash killed 78 people: 66 passengers and 12 crewmembers. All were Russian or Israeli citizens.

The administration of the Ukrainian Armed Forces acknowledged their responsibility only under the pressure of conclusive evidence. However, this did not stop the Ukrainian authorities from casting doubts upon the issue again a long time after the accident. The Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine demanded there be more evidence presented to prove that the plane had been downed by a Ukrainian missile.

The solution of the problem regarding compensation has turned out to be too protracted, so the relatives of the slain passengers and members of the crew have decided to go to court. However, the trial has not led to any results either. To all appearances, there is no easy way to settle the question of compensation. For the time being, the total sum of claims comes to about $9.5 million (or more than 50 million hryvnas, the Ukrainian national currency). Furthermore, the claimed sum is likely to grow considerably.

Interfax reports that Boris Kalinovsky, the chairman of a foundation to help the relatives of the people that were killed in the plane crash above the Black Sea, stated that the amount of compensation that had been suggested by Ukraine for the last time was four times as low as it was last year. In addition, Kalinovsky said that the amount of suggested compensation was almost 20 times less than the claimed sum. Those sums of money were also offered to the relatives of the slain Israelis, who considered the offer totally unacceptable.

Victims' lawyers stated that, if the Ukrainian government was going to insist upon the suggested compensation, the sum of the claimed compensation should be increased to one million dollars for each death. In addition to that, it has recently become known that the relatives of the slain passengers and crewmembers were going to file a lawsuit to claim damages at the European Court in Strasbourg. "There is no need to mention what damage it might cause to Ukraine's image in the civilized world - there is no other way to worsen it even more," the Ukrainian website GlavRed wrote.

However, financial losses might become a lot higher than the currently claimed sum. First of all, the Strasbourg-based court is not likely to reduce anything, although claims will definitely grow. The unjustifiable delay in satisfying claimants' legal requirements and circumstances of the tragedy may provide it with very good reasons for so doing. The Ukrainian government originally denied the involvement of its ABM system in the crash of the Russian plane. Furthermore, the government also denied the fact that a military exercise had taken place. All these facts might result in a considerable increase of the claimed sum to compensate the moral damage.

For the time being, all the suits are being considered in the Pechersky District Court in Kiev. The Kievskiye Vedomosty newspaper wrote that spokespeople for the Ukrainian government were going to prove to the court that Sibir, which owned the downed Tu-154 jet, was also responsible for the accident, since the plane was not outfitted with special recognition equipment. In addition to the Ukrainian government, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry and the State Treasury of Ukraine are acting as defendants in the case.