MH370 Passenger’s Daughter: “The Evidence is That He is Not Dead” UPDATED

After reading my book a journalist with the UK’s Daily Star newspaper, David Rivers, reached out to the daughter of passenger Sergei Deineka, Liza Deineka, whose social media postings I quoted. He published her response in a story today.

As you may recall, just 11 day after her father and all the other passengers aboard MH370 had effectively been declared dead by the Malaysian prime minister, Liza posted a photo of herself with her father on Instagram with the comment, “Happy Birthday, Daddy.” Several friends added comments with their own well-wishes. One wrote, “With the birthday boy! Let everything always be good for him,” followed by a string of emojis: a blushing, smiling face; a gift wrapped with a bow; a noisemaker; confetti; a toy balloon; a bow. “Thank you,” Liza responded, with a kissy-face emoji.

I found this exchange startling because signals transmitted from MH370 suggested that the plane was hijacked to Russia. Since Deineka and Chustrak were former Soviet Army veterans who happened to be sitting right under the SDU, they seemed top suspects as potential hijackers. Of course, if they took the plane and flew it to Kazakhstan, they would not be dead as commonly assumed, but alive. And Liza’s social media posts (both here and elsewhere) seemed to be saying just that.

I long ago reached out directly to Chustrak and Deineka’s families but had been told they didn’t wish to speak to me. Rivers, however, had better luck. After he contacted her and asked about my theory she responded with a statement. The translation reads:

Since March 8, 2014, I have not seen or heard (from) my dad. The evidence is that he is not dead, so all I can do is hope for the best.
I am very sorry people want to discuss and condemn the emotions of people who have a missing person missing. I don’t agree with many in this article.
Starting with answers, ending the reasons why my dad flew this way. They flew to Beijing to get a visa.
No plane wreckage was found, so I can’t be sure that they crashed. All I can do is hope that people could be saved.
Unfortunately, so far no one has given us reliable information about what happened to the plane and the people in it.”

A couple of things about this statement struck me as remarkable.

First, though Rivers doesn’t clarify this in his article, the reason that Liza brings up the visa is that she’s attempting to explain why her father and his partner were on the plane in the first place. As I described in my book, Chustrak’s widow stated in a Ukrainian court filing that her husband and Deineka were traveling to Beijing in order to get to a trade show in Guangzhou. Yet this is a very roundabout way to get from Kuala Lumpur to Guangzhou.

In this statement, Liza seems to be suggesting that this leg of their journey was necessary in order for the men to get the visas they needed for their trip. But that’s not how travel into China works. A Russian friend of mine who lives in China emailed me that “Visas should be obtained either outside China or, if you have an invitation from a Chinese company, in a port of entry through special police facilities. It takes a week to get a one-year multiple visa, a couple of days for one-entry visa.”

In 2013 the Chinese introduced an exception, whereby you could fly without a visa to certain cities (including both Beijing and Guangzhou) and stay for up to 72 hours if you had an onward ticket to a third country. Ukrainians were among the nationalities qualified to get these Transit Visas.

Regardless of which of these options Chustrak and Deineka might have intended to avail themselves of, since any visa facilities that are available in Beijing are also available in Guangzhuo, I am unable to discern a visa-related reason for these men to go to Beijing. If any readers feel otherwise I would very much welcome their input.

The second thing I find remarkable about Liza Deineka’s statement is this: “The evidence is that he is not dead.” The most mundane interpretation of this statement would be that she means there is no evidence he is dead—but on the face of it she is saying something quite different, namely that there is positive evidence for his still being alive. I can’t imagine what this evidence might be, but if such a thing existed it would be of course highly interesting. I’ve asked Rivers to send me the original statement in Russian, in hopes that a close parsing of the original by a native speaker will clarify her meaning. He’s said he will and I’ll post an update when that happens.

By the way, she writes “I am very sorry people want to discuss and condemn the emotions of people who have a missing person missing.” I think it should be self-evident that I’m not condemning her emotions, to which I’m sympathetic; rather I’m trying to understand the meaning of the things that she wrote and posted on social media.

It’s a confusing situation. On the one hand, her family is part of a suit against Malaysia Airlines for wrongful death; on the other hand, they haven’t had him declared dead in Ukraine. If his family celebrated his birthday in March of 2015 that suggests they believed he was alive, whereas here she says “all I can do is hope for the best.”

Also, I don’t know what she means by “No plane wreckage was found, so I can’t be sure that they crashed.” Several pieces of wreckage have been found that have been confirmed to have come from MH370, as anyone with even a glancing familiarity with the case wouldl know.

Rivers tells me that Deineka has said she is unwilling to answer any further questions. This is a pity, because if her father’s presence aboard MH370 was innocent then I think a simple clarification of what the men were doing and why would clear up the fog of suspicion.

By the way, I get that the Daily Star’s journalism is not held in particularly high regard. But Rivers has clearly done some real reporting here, and apart from some tendentious language (and an entirely fabricated quote in the headline, for which I do not hold him responsible) his article is accurate.

UPDATE 5/21/19: David Rivers has sent me the texts of the original messages he got from Liza Deineka:

I first put your blog post to her for her right of reply, she said: К сожалению ,я не могу найти эту информацию в интернете.не могли бы вы прислать мне отрывок,где упоминается о моем отце?

I sent your blog post to her, and she said: С 8 марта 2014 года я не видела и не слышала своего папу.Доказательств что он мертв нет,так что все что мне остаётся это надеятся на лучшее!
Мне очень жаль ,что люди хотят обсудить и осудить эмоции людей,у которых близкий человек пропал безвести.Я со многим не согласна в этой статье.начиная с моих ответов ,заканчивая причинами почему мой папа летел таким путём.
Летели они через Пекин ,чтобы получить визу.

Then, I asked her what she mean by ‘evidence is my dad is still alive’, she said: Обломки самолета не были найдены,так что я не могу быть уверена ,что они разбились.Все что я могу делать-это надеяться,что люди могли спастись.
К сожалению,до сих пор никто не дал нам достоверную информацию что случилось с самолетом и людьми в нем.

I then asked what her thoughts were on the debris found, and she said she no longer wished to talk about the subject.

It would seem that Liza Deineka believes that no MH370 debris has been recovered from the Indian Ocean, and that this is positive evidence that her father is still alive. It may be that she has not paid particularly close attention to how the case has unfolded. [UPDATE TO THE UPDATE, 6/6/19: Reader TheBlueMarble writes: “My Russian is not perfect (and neither is my English), but the meaning of ‘Доказательств что он мертв нет’ is definitely not what the translation you’ve got suggests. It very literally means ‘there is no evidence that he is dead’ and nothing more than that I’m afraid. To be honest, I see nothing in the Russian text that would prove she actually believes that her father is alive – it sounds way more like an expression of a faint hope rather than any sort of conviction.” I think this is correct, and that another valid translation would be “There is no proof that he is dead,” which would make even more sense.]

I’m still curious, though, about the visa story. Seems like there’s more to uncover here.

72 thoughts on “MH370 Passenger’s Daughter: “The Evidence is That He is Not Dead” UPDATED”

  1. @koebeen

    “….the day of death must be installed on March 8, 2014, that is, the date of the alleged crash of the plane”

    The use of the word alleged maybe a legal requirement but it’s also quite telling.

  2. @SteveBarratt I wouldn’t make too much of that. I think the better translation is: “the day of death should be set to March 8, 2014, that is, the date of the *likely* crash of the plane”

    What is odd to me is the excess info:
    Why does the court need to know the check in was per usual?
    Why does the court need to be told about forward tickets to Guangzhou?

    And did we know that family members received a copy of the boarding tape?

  3. @JeffW
    “…. I think the Mahathir statement is a vey telling one, and it would serve well to ask why Mahathir might make such a statement when so much evidence contradicts it.”

    I would like to learn more about Mahathir’s position because that is some kind of truth litmus test for me, to say Russia did not do it. Might have been an accident, but they did it.

    I feel like many Countries reserve the right to have an alternate truth within their own Country. So it’s par for the course, but potentially gives us a reference point.

    My anaolgy….modern string theory posits hundreds of parallel universes, each with different laws of physics. So I see the world as hundreds of States each with different versions of the truth.

  4. My Russian is not perfect (and neither is my English), but the meaning of “Доказательств что он мертв нет” is definitely not what the translation you’ve got suggests. It very literally means “there is no evidence that he is dead” and nothing more than that I’m afraid. To be honest, I see nothing in the Russian text that would prove she actually believes that her father is alive – it sounds way more like an expression of a faint hope rather than any sort of conviction.

  5. @thebluemarble, Thanks for that clarification. One could also render it as “There’s no proof that he’s dead,” which would make even more sense.

  6. @gecina:
    Just read the puff-piece you linked to from the Atlantic and not surprised that it is pushing the ‘pilot suicide’ story, despite zero evidence that Zaharie Shah caused the disappearance of the plane. It is simply propaganda being re-published in support of a very weak conjecture, designed to divert us from knowing what really happened to cause the highly unlikely event. Seems in charge of the storyline have been rattled by the issues raised by the new book from Jeff.

  7. @Jeff
    To me the greatest mystery is not why the sdu cycled off but why it cycled back on without a flight identifier. We really should verify how that’s possible. What comes to mind is that whoever wrote this data set didn’t know the identifier and wasn’t able to insert it. Totally consistent with falsified data.

    With the false data, I also wonder if we were supposed to think the plane went north. With the inserted data sets the only thing that’s certain is that the plane did not follow either the northern or southern routes. Which again takes us to the Kate Tee and Maldives. Follow the white rabbit.

  8. Mr. Wise, have you looked at miss Deineka’s Instagram lately ? Her June 21 post about finally accomplishing her dream of flying a plane & how amazing she felt ? How can you do that after you supposedly lost your beloved father this way ? Maybe her dad actually died in the meantime & no one is keeping a watch on what she’s posting now :))

    As per Google Translate, what should be shocking, coming from someone in her (presumed) situation – “upside down and your soul goes to heels And when you fall, your whole body is torn from the seat and you are in zero gravity for a couple of seconds” – Really ? That’s what her father must have gone through when he died …..

    Also, her 2014 posts are obviously not of a grieving daughter. I’ve looked at some of the copilots friends & family Instagrams (found some after looking at mh370 related tags) & at least those expressed grief even years after ….

  9. @Raluca, Thanks for pointing this out–I hadn’t checked her account in a while, as after the publication of “The Taking of MH370” she set it to private. Very interesting about her flying in a small plane, sounds like the pilot took her on some aerobatic maneuvers.

  10. It’s not even set to private. Maybe you are blocked. The birthday photo with her dad is still there, the well-wishing comments too. She has at least 2 photos in the air, on jets, travelling, so no pain coming from that. I’ve tried to gawk at her wedding photos, looking for her dad. At least she didn’t make it that obvious but there miiiight be a roundish faced fellow somewhere there in a front row …… I sure hope you continue to investigate.

  11. @Raluca, I can see it now, she must have changed it back. Yes, I was struck by how she has been traveling lately, including a group trip to an all-inclusive resort in Egypt and a spontaneous weekend getaway to Turkey, as well as a trip to Crimea and Russia… BTW I also watched the wedding footage with great interest but didn’t spot anyone who looked like her dad.

  12. No message of the like “wish you were here, daddy” that I can see. Will try to look at pages of people connected to her or find her on other sites, she’s definitely a neglijent one.

  13. There are many direct flights from Malaysia to Guangzhou, a couple of hours shorter than the Beijing flight (before you figure in the second leg out from Beijing).

    There is though the possibility the passenger had some bad advice – received general advice about visas from a corporate invite to China, without the exclusion for Guangzhou. That would be a poor company which didn’t tell its invitee he can come direct to Guangzhou for his visa, naturally. Yet it is still distantly possible something was lost in translation.

    Nevertheless it will always leave a strong question mark, of many connected with this flight. A strange situation for this man seated beside the SDU in this event – regardless of what happened to the plane finally – which we’re told anyway, distinctly includes the greatest satellite data mystery in aviation history all by itself.

    That is: SDU switches off it seems by power severance, as manually turning the unit off would send an automated message to the satellite saying this was happening, and someone is aware exactly of this protocol. Then SDU appears to be off for around an hour. (I was questioning recently how possible it may be to connect other equipment to the plane’s satellite antenna during this time and communicate unknown over any protocol, including encrypted internet / voip, with some unknown satellite.) Then for some reason which only seems to imply human control, exactly just after the strange (dubious to me) Thai – Malaysian peninsula and Malacca radar blip breadcrumbs with poor coverage, apparently our satellite unit re-engages and is going for 7 hours.

    To be the man, with relevant experience, seated by the unit concerned in this greatest of all time satellite unit mysteries gives a great deal of interest in itself.

  14. @GMC, Thanks for your comment — I agree that flying to Beijing (in the middle of the night, no less) to get to Guangzhou is odd. I’m looking into it.

  15. Jeff only reason why families didn’t contact you is that you are fuckin idiot. Both Ukrainians were on exhibition in Kuala Lumpur and then must be on exhibition in Guangzhou. There was coup d’état in Ukraine, stupid people think it was revolution, that is the reason why China government limited issue of visas to Ukrainian citizens. That’s why they flight to Beijing and after have to fly to Guangzhou. Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine are 3 different countries. Soviet veterans, really? All young men in USSR, and then in Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan and many other countries must undergo military training. Veterans that were in army in 1980’s in construction battalion hijacked the plane? This is the dumbest shit I’ve read. And remove personal details like the address from your fucking website before you get sued in the Netherlands for libel.

  16. @Eugene, What evidence do you have that political troubles in Ukraine meant that nationals traveling to China had to get visas in Beijing instead of Guangzhou? Legitimately want to know.

  17. I’ll reach out to them, but in the meantime I’m curious to know how you came upon that information, as I haven’t seen it reported anywhere.

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