News State Queensland Putin may be unwelcome at G20

Putin may be unwelcome at G20

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Queensland’s premier says Russian President Vladimir Putin would be unwelcome at this year’s G20 conference unless he alters his position on the MH17 disaster.

Seven Queenslanders were among 298 killed when a Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down in eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border.

Suspicion has fallen on Russian-backed rebels armed with Russian artillery, but Mr Putin has said Ukraine bears responsibility for the crash.

He has blamed that country’s crackdown on separatist rebels for stoking tensions.

On Friday, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott stopped short of declaring Mr Putin unwelcome at the November G20 leaders summit in Brisbane, telling reporters he would wait and see what transpired.

But Queensland Premier Campbell Newman says Mr Putin would only be welcome at the G20 if he and the Russian government fully co-operates with an international investigation.

Mr Newman’s comments on Saturday morning follow reports that investigators were blocked from the crash site by pro-Russian separatists.

“Queenslanders, I think, would expect Mr Putin and the Russian government to fully co-operate with this independent, international investigation,” Mr Newman told the Nine Network.

“If we start seeing them failing to co-operate – we’ve heard that they’re not providing access at this time – if that continues, I think I can speak for all Queenslanders and say at that point he’s probably not welcome.”

Mr Newman urged Mr Putin and his government to back a full investigation.

“If he thinks he’s got nothing to do with it, that’s the clearest way he can demonstrate that he’s got nothing to hide,” he said.

Mr Abbott has said there can be no buck-passing or blame shifting by Moscow in an investigation into the disaster, which has claimed 28 Australian lives.

Australia’s Ukrainian community is holding anti-Putin protests in Sydney on Saturday and is calling for the Russian president to be banned from the G20.

The head of the Australian-Ukrainian community has accused Mr Putin of having “Australian blood on his hands”.