The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) has released purported tapes of intercepted calls of Russian separatist fighters discussing the shooting down of a Malaysia airline jet by a fellow rebel group and the realization that the plane, carrying 289 people, was a civilian airliner.
The tapes — which could not be independently verified — were released to reporters at a briefing in Kiev late Thursday by SBU chief Valentyn Nalyvaichenko.
Pro-Russian militant passes by the wreckage of a Boeing 777, of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 debris, which crashed during flight over the eastern Ukraine region near Donetsk, Ukraine, 18 July 2014. .
The security service also posted a video compilation of the purported audio tapes on YouTube.
“Now you know who carried out the crime,” Nalwaichenkio said after presenting the taped calls. “We will do everything to ensure that those Russian soldiers who carried out this crime were punished.”
Russian rebels and the Russian military have denied responsibility for bringing down MH17, pointing the finger instead at the Ukrainian government.
In the first tape, the SBU says Igor Bezler, a Russian military intelligence officer and leading commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, is reporting to Col. Vasily Geranin, of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.
The translated version of the tapes was published by the English-language Kiev Post. Another translated version with some alternate wording was published by the Ukrainian news agency Interfax-Ukraine.
Igor Bezler: We have just shot down a plane. Group Minera. It fell down beyond Yenakievo (Donetsk Oblast).
Geranin: Pilots. Where are the pilots?
IB: Gone to search for and photograph the plane. It’s smoking.
VG: How many minutes ago?
IB: About 30 minutes ago.
The SBU says the next part of the conversation takes place about 40 minutes later and involves a separatist militant nicknamed “Major” who is reporting to another militant nicknamed “Greek” on the downed plane.
“Major”: These are Chernukhin folks who shot down the plane. From the Chernukhin checkpoint. Those Cossacks who are based in Chernukhino.
“Greek”: Yes, Major.
“Major”: The plane fell apart in the air. In the area of Petropavlovskaya mine. The first “200” (code word for dead person). We have found the first “200.” A civilian.
“Greek”: Well, what do you have there?
“Major”: In short, it was 100 per cent a passenger (civilian) aircraft.
“Greek”: Are many people there?
“Major”: Holy sh__t! The debris fell right into the yards (of homes).
“Greek”: What kind of aircraft?
“Major”: I haven’t ascertained this. I haven’t been to the main site. I am only surveying the scene where the first bodies fell. There are the remains of internal brackets, seats and bodies.
“Greek”: Is there anything left of the weapon?
“Major”: Absolutely nothing. Civilian items, medicinal stuff, towels, toilet paper.
“Greek”: Are there documents?
“Major”: Yes, of one Indonesian student. From a university in Thompson.
In the third part of the intercepted conversation, Russian-backed Cossack commander Nikolay Kozitsin is speaking to an unidentified separatist.
Militant: Regarding the plane shot down in the area of Snizhne-Torez. It’s a civilian one. Fell down near Grabove. There are lots of corpses of women and children. The Cossacks are out there looking at all this.
They say on TV it’s AN-26 transport plane, but they say it’s written Malaysia Airlines on the plane. What was it doing on Ukraine’s territory?
Kozitsin: That means they were carrying spies. They shouldn’t be (expletive) flying. There is a war going on.