Ukraine rebels hand black boxes to Malaysia experts
Donetsk, Ukraine, July 22, 2014
A senior separatist leader, Aleksander Borodai, handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts in the city of Donetsk in the early hours of Tuesday.
"Here they are, the black boxes," Borodai told a room packed with journalists at the headquarters of his self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic as an armed rebel placed the boxes on a desk.
Both sides then signed a document, which Borodai said was a protocol to finalise the procedure after lengthy talks with the Malaysians.
"I can see that the black boxes are intact, although a bit damaged. In good condition," Colonel Mohamed Sakri of Malaysian National Security Council said in extending his thanks to "His Excellency Mr.Borodai" for passing on the recorders.
Borodai also said a train carrying the remains of the victims of the Malaysia Airlines plane catastrophe has reached Donetsk. It is on its way to Kharkiv, some 300 km (186 miles) north-west.
The Malaysian experts and a Dutch delegation also on site in Donetsk will travel along with it, he said.
Meanwhile, Russia has called for the investigation into the downing of MH17 to be led by the "international community" and not Ukraine, its ambassador to Malaysia said.
"This situation is quite unique, the area is a war zone. I think the international community should be flexible about that and act in a way acceptable to all sides," Russian ambassador to Malaysia Lyudmila Vorobyeva said in a news conference.
"Russia has been calling for a fair, thorough and full investigation led by ICAO since the beginning," she said.
ICAO is the United Nation's International Civil Aviation Organization. Under ICAO rules the country where the incident happened, in this case Ukraine, should lead the investigation.
Ina nother development, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has Russia's assertion that a Ukrainian warplane was flying near the downed Malaysian airliner last week, saying Ukrainian planes in the area were on the ground at the time of the crash.
In response to Russian Defense Ministry's statement earlier on Monday that a Ukrainian military plane flew within 3 to 5 km of the Malaysian plane at the time it was downed, Poroshenko told CNN: "My immediate reaction - this is not true."
He said Ukraine was open to any investigation about its planes and that the Russians should provide evidence for such a statement. - Reuters