A separatist leader said on Sunday they were keeping what they presumed were the black boxes from the downed Malaysian airliner in the eastern city of Donetsk, but they would need experts to confirm that they were the plane’s flight recorders.
“Some items, presumably the black boxes, were found, and they have been delivered to Donetsk and they are under our control,” Aleksander Borodai, prime minister of the self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic, told a news conference.
“There are no specialists among us who could pinpoint the look of the black boxes, but we brought to Donetsk some technical items which could be the black boxes of the airliner.”
Another rebel official, Sergei Kavtaradze, said he thought there were two of the presumed black boxes.
Black boxes record what’s happening on board and are able to survive a crash so that investigators can discover the cause of an accident.
A growing mountain of evidence indicates that the Russian-led rebels shot down the Malaysia Airlines flight, mistaking it for a Ukrainian military transport plane, with a BUK missile system supplied by Moscow.
U.S. intelligence has confirmed that Russia supllied the sohpisticated missile launchers and that the systems were moved back in Russia less than 12 hours after MH17 fell from the sky.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed the incident, which killed 298 people, on Ukraine’s government. Ukraine has accused the Russia-backed rebels, many of whom are Russian citizens, of tampering with and hiding evidence at the crash site.
“Their key task is to destroy possible evidence,” said Andriy Parubiy, head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council. “It will be hard to conduct a full investigation with some of the objects being taken away, but we will do our best.”
On Sunday, Ukraine’s security service (SBU) released a video that apparently shows a commander from the Volstok Battalion telling rebels at the crash site to hide the black boxes because leaders in Moscow wants them.
Here’s a video of the retrieval of the black boxed, according to Reuters:
(Reporting by Lina Kushch; Writing by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Rosalind Russell)
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