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With Leaked Calls, Ukrainian Government Accuses Rebels Of Involvement In Crash

Part of the wreckage of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane is seen after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
Part of the wreckage of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane is seen after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.

Ukraine's security services have published what they say are three intercepted telephone conversations that they say prove rebels were responsible for downing a Malaysian airliner.

In the first recording, the security services said, rebel commander Igor Bezler tells Russian military intelligence officer Vasily Geranin that rebels shot down a plane on July 17.

"We have just shot down a plane. That was 'Miner's group.' It fell down outside Yenakiyevo," Bezler says, according to the recording.

In the second, two rebel fighters -- one of them at the scene of the crash -- say the attack was carried out by a unit of Cossacks about 25 kilometers north of the crash site.

A third call is purportedly between local Cossack leader Mykalo Kozitsyn and an unamed militant. "Well, then it was bringing spies. Why the hell were they flying? There is a war going on," Kozitsyn says.

"I only saw where the first bodies fell. There are the remains of internal brackets, chairs, bodies," purportedly says the rebel "major" on a call.

RFE/RL could not independently confirm the veracity of the recordings.

First posted in Russian on its YouTube page, the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) added translations of the calls into English and German, indicating that Ukrainian authorities were eager to get their message to the international community.

SBU chief Valentyn Nalivaychenko said, "We will do everything for the Russian military who carried out this crime to be punished."

Leaked calls have been a feature of the information war between Russia and Ukraine.

Russia has been accused of posting intercepted calls to YouTube of Western and Ukrainian officials, such as former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and top U.S. diplomat Victoria Nuland, both using profanities in private conversations.

"Kommersant" reporter Ilya Barabanov said that he reached Geranin, who said that he had not discussed the plane with anyone. The reporter later added that he tried calling back Geranin but his phone was switched off.

With reporting by Reuters and AP

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