Letter to Ambassador July 2022

His Excellency

Dr Alexey Pavlovsky

Ambassador of Russia

Embassy of the Russian Federation

78 Canberra Avenue

Griffith ACT 2603

Dear Ambassador,

It is now eight years since our son Jack was killed when MH17 was shot down over Ukraine. He was 25 years old.

The Australian government, and our family, hold the Russian Federation responsible for his murder as well as the murder of the other 297 passengers and crew.

The raw pain at Jack’s death has lessened, but the hole in our lives and the emptiness we feel at his absence remains the same. It will be that way until we die.

The Russian Federation’s failure to take any responsibility for the shooting down of MH17, is still offensive. While it makes no difference to our grief and loss, the truth of what happened matters. Russia’s continued denials of any involvement are, as the whole world knows, completely empty.

We do not hold much hope that this will change in the near future, certainly while President Putin is in power. But in time the reign of all leaders and all regimes comes to end. We hope that in our lifetime Russia will admit what happened.

We also want you to know that we stand with the people of Ukraine in the face of Russia’s unprovoked and violent invasion of their country. It was gut wrenching for us when we heard the news that Russia had invaded. This is the same war, borne of the same distorted nationalism, that killed out son.

And now your leaders are also lying, to the world and your own people, about what you are doing (and the reasons for doing it) – the wholesale destruction, the rape of women and girls, the deliberate killing on non-combatants, the indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas- apartment blocks, schools, maternity hospitals, child care centres and more.

The same leadership responsible for the deaths of all on board MH17 is now also guilty of the deaths of thousands, if not tens of thousands of civilians. No euphemism like “special military operation” can hide the wrongfulness of your country’s actions. How can you wreak such violence upon your fellow human beings, many of them your own kin?

The ex-Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, speaking recently about western sanctions on Russia, claimed, “They hate us all! The basis for these decisions is hatred for Russia, for Russians and for all its inhabitants.” Speaking for ourselves, this is not the case. We do not hate the Russian people, we do not hold the Russian people responsible for MH17 and the invasion of Ukraine. 

It is your leaders who must be held to account. And it is our family’s hope that one day that will be so.

Yours sincerely

Jon and Meryn O’Brien