MH17 crash: Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta prints front-page asking Netherlands for 'forgiveness'

The independent newspaper has paid tribute to the 193 Dutch victims

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The Independent Online

The Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta has dedicated its front page today to an apology to the Netherlands for the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash, in which 193 Dutch citizens were killed.

The poignant cover features the headline “Forgive us, Netherlands”, written in Dutch as “Vergeef ons, Nederlands" and translated into Russian below. The image, occupying the whole of the page, shows a procession of hearses carrying the coffins of victims.

The picture was taken as the first bodies recovered from the crash site were transported to a military barracks in Holland on Wednesday for identification after a solemn ceremony at Eindhoven Airport.

Novaya Gazeta was established by Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the Soviet Union, who used money he received from him his 1990 Nobel Prize to part fund the publication in 1993. The publication is part-owned by Alexander Lebedev, whose son Evgeny owns The Independent.

The liberal opposition newspaper is highly regarded for its investigative journalism and critical coverage of Russian politics. Four of its journalists have been murdered since 2001 including Anna Politkovskaya, a virulent critic of the government and high-profile human rights activist who was shot dead in 2006.

The US believes separatist rebels in the area shot down the plane with a BUK surface-to-air missile supplied by Russia, probably by mistake, a claim strongly denied by Russia.

The apology comes as Russian citizens left tributes to the victims of the MH17 crash outside the Dutch Embassy in Moscow, with some also asking for forgiveness.

Flowers, notes and toys have been placed there during the last few days. One message reads: “We are afraid, we are ashamed, we are in mourning," while another mourner left flowers accompanied by a note that simply reads: “Forgive us”.