The Soviet Union cannot be blamed for shooting down Korean Air Lines Flight 007 10 years ago and killing the 269 people aboard, the first Russian panel to investigate the disaster said Monday.
The panel said the jumbo jet’s crew was at fault for straying hundreds of miles off course over Soviet military installations on Sept. 1, 1983.
The panel’s findings largely agreed with those released in June by the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal.
The international panel, however, criticized Soviet authorities for shooting down the airliner despite having doubts about its identity and not trying to contact the crew.
The Boeing 747 was flying from Anchorage, Alaska, to Seoul when it was shot down by a Soviet fighter jet over Sakhalin Island in Russia’s Far East. Everyone aboard, including 62 Americans, was killed.
The Soviet Union accused the United States of using the jetliner for a spying mission. President Ronald Reagan denounced the Soviets, saying they knew they were destroying a civilian airliner.
The Russian commission sought to dispel both versions.
“Unfortunately, the lack of truth about the tragedy and various rumors and speculations have seriously affected international relations,” said Sergei A. Filatov, Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin’s chief of staff and panel member.