The Ukrainian Security Services (SBU) has released more leaked audio, reportedly a conversation between Oleksandr Khodakovsky, commander of the separatist's Vostok battalion and various separatist fighters and staff members. The Vostok battalion is widely regarded as Moscow's main military presence in eastern Ukraine and has been trying to establish increased control of the situation on the ground in the last month or so.
We cannot verify the audio, though we have heard audio of Khodakovsky before and this sounds like him.
We've provided an excerpted transcript. This first excerpted conversation reportedly takes place at 17:53 local time on July 18th. Khodakovsky is asking his man to locate the black boxes:
Khodakovsky - Do it really quick. Urgently. Moscow asks where the boxes are... Who is there besides you? Are there Strelkov's guys?
"Oleksiy" - I don't know. Just now OSCE people came.
Khodakovsky- So, first of all they are interested in the fate of 'black boxes.' They must be under our control. Please, do this task, ok?
Another conversation, reportedly recorded on July 18th at 18:10 local time, between Khodakovsky and "Andriy".
Khodakovsky - I have a request for you. It is not my request. Our friends from high above are very much interested in the fate of the 'black boxes.' I mean people from Moscow.
There are two items -- Khmuryi, Strelok's [sic] head of intelligence, has one. Please, cooperate with the Ministry of Emergency. All that you find must not come into somebody else's hands. Only yours, or Strelkov's people or Khmuryi's, it doesn't matter...
And together with that guy from the Ministry of Emergency, Oleksiy, try to take everything that you can find... so that it doesn't get into somebody else's hands...
All those people that are coming, OSCE and so on....
A conversation 50 minutes later:
Oleksiy: Listen, they should look like some orange small barrels?
Khodakovsky - The hell I know? You know better...
Oleksiy: We found something, This is just a box -- satellite navigatuon block. It is written on it. [note - the SBU is being polite. The actual translation is "We found some sort of fucking crap. It's got 'satellite navigation' written on it" - The Interpreter]
Khodakovsky - Hide it anyway. Who knows how they are described.
Here's what else we know. Earlier today we posted a statement from Igor Bezler, a GRU (Russian foreign military intelligence) officer and separatist commander in Gorlovka. He actually admits that the audio from a previous SBU leak where he talks about shooting down the plane was in fact real, but claims it was doctored and he was talking about shooting down a different plane.
While we know that the separatists have shot down plenty of planes, this incident proves something very significant. The separatist leadership is so panicked over this incident that in Bezler's attempt to distance the separatists from the shooting down of MH17 he accidentally admitted that the separatists are actively coordinating with Russian military intelligence (GRU) and that the audio being leaked by the SBU contains genuine intercepted phone conversations.
All of this, along with the fact that this newest audio release sounds like Khodakovsky's voice, adds credibility to this new leak which suggests that Moscow is trying to capture the black boxes and retain control over the crash site.
Read our previous update here or scroll down to the entry made at 13:04 GMT.