The postal service of the Netherlands has been forced to apologize for a satirical stamp depicting a passenger aircraft being hit mid-air with a football, which was released to mark the World Cup but was apparently inspired by the shooting down of Malaysian flight MH17 by a suspected Russian missile four years ago.
All 298 passengers and crew were killed when the aircraft was struck over eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014, the majority of them Dutch nationals.
The illustration was originally created by a Ukrainian artist as a way of attacking Russia and its hosting of the World Cup. Anyone can submit stamp designs to PostNL, according to Dutch broadcaster NOS, which reported the story, giving a Dutch contributor the opportunity to post the image.
The picture on the stamp showed the football striking and exploding against a high-flying jet, mimicking how Dutch-led international investigators believe a Russian-owned BUK anti-aircraft missile exploded next the to the Malaysian aircraft, after being fired from territory controlled by Russian-backed separatists.
At least one set of the stamps have reportedly been ordered from PostNL’s site, but in a Twitter message, the company sought to distance itself from the release: “We’re not responsible for this in any way or form and regret it being made.”
Moscow has repeatedly denied any role in the shooting down of Flight MH17, reacting with a stream of disinformation and alternative theories, and four years later there has been no progress in bringing anyone to justice.
The image on the stamp was part of a series of posters created by artist Andri Jermolenko in reaction to Russia hosting the competition, according to a Ukrainian website.
NOS first reported on the stamps after someone sent them a picture. But their viewers had mixed reactions to the story online.
Some thought the stamps were “outrageous,” while others wondered why the stamps were not widely celebrated, as they depict “exactly the hypocrisy of the World Cup in Russia.”