The Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash site in Ukraine. Source: Twitter/ @mashable - Credit: The Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash site in Ukraine. Source: Twitter/ @mashable
Thursday, 2 April 2015 - 13:27
Russian intelligence officer heard on MH17 recordings: report
One of the persons that the Dutch Public Prosecutor suspects was involved in the downing of flight MH17 has been recognized by Ukraine as a Russian intelligence officer, NRC reports. This is the first concrete evidence of senior Russian soldiers or senior soldiers being involved in the attack. On Monday the Public Prosecutor released four recordings of tapped phone conversations regarding the crash. The Public Prosecutor did not reveal the identity of the callers, but said in a statement that the conversations were between separatists. According to the newspaper, it now appears that the Ukrainian secret service SBOe had already released one of these conversations shortly after the disaster. In this phone call the SBOe identifies one of the callers as Sergei Nikoljevitsj Petrovski, alias Chmoeri,, an officer of the Russian military intelligence service GROe. In interviews Petrovski stated that he was discharged from the rank of Major General in April 2014 and joined the Russian rebel leader Igor Girkin, alias Strelkov, immediately after leaving the army. At the time of the MH17 crash, Petrovski was Strelkov's deputy and intelligence officer in Dontesk. In the recording SBOe's recording of the call the other person on the line can be heard greeting Petrovski as "Nikolajevitsj". This has been edited out of the Public Prosecutors version of the recording, according to the National Prosecutors Office, to protect the people in the recordings. The recording shows that Petrovski may have been involved in arranging transport for a BUK missile. According to the National Prosecutors Office, there are many indications that MH17 was shot down with one of these missiles. "Is that what I think?" he asks. The other person on the cal, "Boerjat", replies: "Yes, yes, yes, a BUK". The SBOe has put a large number of recordings of tapped phone conversations on YouTube, including several which involves Petrovski. He also seems to be the man speaking in two of the new tapped conversations that the Public Prosecutor released on Monday. These discussions reveal that a BUK missile was transported to Russia after the crash. This transport was done by a group of men led by someone with the nickname "Bibliotekar" - Russian for librarian. This is not the first time that a former Russian soldier has surfaced in the Ukraine. Igor Strelkov also claims that he used to be an intelligence officer. Russia has admitted that "volunteers" fight alongside the rebels in Ukraine, but vehemently denies that Russian armed forces are involved in the conflict. Independent journalism investigations have also found indications of Russian involvement. In November last year British online collective Bellingcat concluded that MH17 was shot down by a Russia delivered missile based on photographic and video analysis. RTL Nieuws came to the same conclusion in March after a forensic investigation on fragments from the crash site.