Rebels surrendering MH17 black box to Russian security service today, Ukraine intel claims

Debris from the MH17 plane lies on the ground near the village of Rozsypne in the Donetsk region July 18, 2014. — Reuters pic
Debris from the MH17 plane lies on the ground near the village of Rozsypne in the Donetsk region July 18, 2014. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — More conflicting reports have emerged on MH17’s black boxes, with a Ukraine ministerial official now claiming that intelligence sources believe that one of the flight’s crucial data recorders will be handed over to Russia’s federal security service (FSB) later today.

In a Facebook post, Anton Gerashchenko, who is an adviser to Ukraine’s interior ministry, said Ukraine intelligence has picked up information that the black box found by “terrorists” at the crash site in rebel-held Donetsk would be handed over the border of eastern Ukraine to FSB supervisors.

“According to the latest information from our intelligence, the ‘black boxes’ obtained by the terrorists at the scene will be handed over to their supervisors from FSB today on one of the border crossing check-points of Luhansk,” he wrote.

“This would be one of the many brazen acts of violation of international treaties in the sphere of aircraft accidents investigation by Putin,” Gerashchenko added, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Ukrainian official also claimed that pro-rebel commander Igor Girkin, who uses the nom de guerre Strelkov, had arrived at Snezhoye last night to “take care” of the situation over the shooting down of the Malaysian plane.

He claimed that the Buk missile system, which is the weapon believed to have been used to take down the Boeing 777 jetliner carrying 298 people, would most likely be destroyed.

Ukraine and Russia have been trading blame over which nation is responsible for the downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight by what US officials say is a Russian-designed air defence missile.

Conflicting reports are also surfacing over which side is currently in possession of the black boxes from the plane, with each opposing faction said to be in possession of one of the plane’s two data recorders.

Ukraine earlier released what it said was intercepted communications between Russian intelligence and pro-Moscow Ukrainian separatists discussing the shooting down of a civilian aircraft in the moments after MH17 disappeared from radar late last night.

The video and its accompanying transcript have yet to be independently verified.

Earlier today, Putin said Ukraine “bears responsibility” for MH17 due to the plane going down in its territory.

“This tragedy would not have happened if there was peace in the country, if military operations had not resumed in the south-east of Ukraine,” he was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

World leaders earlier demanded the United Nations lead an independent investigation into the shooting down of MH17, with the Security Council due to meet today.

MH17 was believed to have been shot down over eastern Ukraine by pro-Russian militants yesterday, killing all 298 people aboard, a Ukrainian interior ministry official said.

MAS said air traffic controllers lost contact with MH17 as it flew over eastern Ukraine towards the Russian border, bound for Asia with 283 passengers and 15 crew aboard.

This is the second air disaster involving a Malaysia Airlines plane in the space of five months, after the Beijing-bound MH370 disappeared with 239 people on board on March 8.

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