Several hours after the MH17 shoot-down, the Ukrainian SBU published 3 intercepted phone calls between (pro-) Russian militants, which appear to confirm the hypothesis that the rebels shot down the plane. The phone calls included a conversation between Girkin’s lieutenant Bezler (Bes) in a conversation with a Moscow-based GRU general, where he reported on the rebels successfully shooting down a plane near Yanakievo. In a surprising interview today, Bezler admitted to the authenticity of this part of the SBU leak, however insisted that he was referring to another (military) airplane shot down much earlier. A good summary of this disclosure can be found here.
Bezler insisted that the remaining three calls, which were very specific both about the airplane (and in particular discussed a Malaysian student’s passport), and about who shot he plane down, were an SBU forgery.
I was able to reach and talk to one of the persons, showcased in the SBU leak.
Because every word in my short interview counts, I will start by summarizing what Grek [Russian for “Greek”] allegedly said in the SBU leak:
* In one call, “Grek” gets a phone call from “Major”, who reports to him that “The Chernuhin road-block team of Cossacks shot down a plane. He goes on to say that the plane disintegrated in mid-air and fell in the area of the Petropavlovsk coliery”. He repeats twice that it was a commercial plane”.
* in a separate call, someone else addressing Grek as “Sasha” (short for Alexander), describes the wreckage of the plane, including body parts, plane interior, etc. “Grek” asks him if there were any weapons on board. The other person says no, but goes on to explain that there were documents on board, citing papers of “A Malaysian student from Thompson University”.
By using a spoofed Moscow-based caller-id, I was able to reach a person on the number, leaked by SBU as belonging to “Grek”. I explained that I wanted an interview. After first hanging up on me, I tried again and was able to convince “Grek” (whom I addressed as “Alexander”) to speak with me Following is the full transcript. N.B. As this was theoretically “an interview”, I will refrain from commenting and interpreting the interview here.
Grek: “Why should I give you an interview?”
Q: “Because you have become an important person now””
Grek: “How come I have become an important person?”
Q: “That’s because SBU published telephone calls where you were allegedly talking about the downed plane”
Grek: “This is complete nonsense, invented by an inflamed brain”
Q: “Do you mean that the phone number did not belong to you, or that you did not say those things?”
Grek: “Well, you think about it yourself.”
Q: “Please let me know if the voice on the SBU leak is yours”
Grek: “But where is it? Where is my voice published?”
Q: “In a phone call, published by SBU on the internet”
Grek: “And what am I saying there?”
Q: “Well you receive a report on the shooting down of the plane and ask questions about documents found, etc”
Grek: (excitedly) “Well the fact that the plane was shot, was seen by three or four towns in the area. And it was not shot from the ground, but from the air, and everyone saw that.”
Q: “So you did say everything on the call, but you were referring to a plane that was not shot by your people?”
Grek: “Well, what else can I say to you. Anyway, everyone knows the truth perfectly. Let the CIA, who publish such recordings, let them explain to you how they did it”
Q: But please answer a simple question: was it you on that call?
Grek: “I am not on that call!”
Here I thanked and hung up, as it was clear that “Grek” had been prepped to follow the same line that Bezler proffered earlier today. Then again, I thought his answers didn’t make sense in the context of the first part of the SBU leak – where “Grek” allegedly receives a report on the shooting down of a plane by Cossacks at the Chernuhino roadblock.
So I decided to pull out a Colombo, and called “Grek” again.
Q: “Just one more thing. If you discussed on the call the contents of a plane, shot by others, then how can you comment on the other call, where you are receiving a report about a plane taken down by the Chernuhino roadblock team?”
Grek: “If I have to be honest, this place is so far from us, that I don’t know who’s there, what they do there, how they do it….This is all…how to say it…fabricated….How can I take decisions, or know what is being done, if that [Chernuhino team] is in the Lugansk region, and I am in the Donetsk region.” [Note: the distance between Chernuhino (Lugansk) and Hrabove (Donetsk), where the MH17 crashed, is approx. 20 km in a straight line]
Q: “So you are saying, that part of the call where you get a report on Chernuhino, was fabricated?”
Grek: “Well, you think about it yourself…They are there, we are here…how can I make decisions for them, if they are all the way there?”
Q: “But the call did not suggest you made decisions, you just got a report on the shooting down of a plane by Cossacks”
Grek: “Part of the call may have taken place…some part…But in what sense do I mean it may have taken place…Such a call, as is being shown there, it never happened.
But there were calls later, where we talked about…is this a military plane, is this not a military plane…What really happened, because in addition to this plane there were other military planes too..so we were trying to figure it out”
Q: “Let me ask one last question. On that very day, in addition to MH17, was there ANOTHER plane that was taken down, about which you might have had that discussion?””
Grek: “Our militias did not shoot down any plane, at all. First, think about the altitude. We don’t even have the equipment for that. This was all fabricated simply to discredit us.”
I don’t think I should comment on the content of the interview, out of simple journalistic ethics. However, I would like to hear if your perception has changed as a result of the interview.