News that Yevgeny Prigozhin was aboard a doomed plane that crashed to earth on Wednesday evening has seemingly divided Russian social media users, as they try and work out just exactly who was responsible and what their motivations were.
President Putin, rogue elements of the Russian army and – of course – the U.S. are all suspects.
And just how reliable the official Russian investigation into the incident will be is very much up for debate, so in the meantime, here’s some of the Russian public reaction and musings.
Just like in the most of the western world, some Russians think President Putin is suspect number 1, Referring to the still-mysterious apartment bombings in Moscow in 1999 that some believe Putin had a hand in, one person wrote: “Putin has been the guarantor of the success of terrorist attacks since 1999.
Others appeared less concerned by the motive and were simply keeping score: “Putin 1:0 Prigozhin”
Elsewhere however, there was scepticism that Putin would do something so blatant.
"I don't believe he was killed so obviously," one person wrote.
In response and possible referencing Prigozhin’s long-running feud with the Russian military, another person replied: "Most likely the soldiers avenged.
“I doubt that Putin would have killed Prigozhin by such a noisy method. Putin acts like a rat.”
Some people’s thoughts were already focused on how the whole event will be explained if it was indeed an assassination: “Now they will find air defense workers who supposedly confused the plane with a military target and shot it down by mistake))).”
Others suggested some poor animal might get the blame: “Most likely it was just a ‘bird’ that hit... "
Others delved even further into the realms of conspiracy, claiming Prigozhin may have set the whole thing up.
“Prigozhin is an unusual personality,” one person wrote. “And it is not impossible that it is a play played by him, and there may be several writers.
“You need to see who benefits! And I’m sure not the Russian leadership.”
Others concurred, pointing out the lack of a body as evidence it was all a trick.: "The death is staged. Learn," wrote one.
"Ignorance is off the charts! Where are the corpses? Is DNA examined? What are you all talking about?" said another
Inevitably, as with practically any other global event, the U.S. was an automatic prime suspect.
"The Americans were the first to [publish the passenger list]. So think now. "
Despite the exact circumstances of the crash not yet being known, U.S. officials themselves seem confident they know who was responsible.
A senior White House official said on Wednesday evening that the death of Prigozhin in Russia would not be a surprise given his falling out with Putin.
"We have seen the reports" of the crash, National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement.
"If confirmed, no one should be surprised,' she said. "The disastrous war in Ukraine led to a private army marching on Moscow, and now – it would seem – to this."
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter