An airplane carrying 295 civilians has crashed in Eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian government is blaming separatists armed with Russian surface-to-air missiles. Ukraine's rebels have denied responsibility. With nothing but a few pixelated YouTube videos and a fast-growing mountain of accusations, Russian Twitter users are in the midst of a full-blown hysteria.
Теперь всем пиздец.
— Kashin⚓Kashin⚓Kashin (@KSHN) July 17, 2014
Now everyone is fucked.
Это полнейший пи-ц
— Alya Kirillova (@lubopitner) July 17, 2014
This is a complete clusterf**k.
August is notoriously a bloody month in Russian history. Past victims of the “August Curse” include several plane crashes, wars, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and so on. Some Russians have grown tired of the idea.
Только, пожалуйста, не надо про “август в этом году рано начался”
— Zlata (@prervana) July 17, 2014
Just, please, let's not start with the “August came early this year.”
Many online have reached the natural conclusion that rebels shot down the airliner, probably by accident, using weapons provided by Moscow.
В СНБО Украины заявляют,что имеют информацию о технике, которая находится в распоряжении боевиков и может сбивать самолеты на большой высоте
— Тихон Дзядко (@tikhondzyadko) July 17, 2014
Ukraine's national security council announces that it has information about the military hardware now available to militants [in the East], which are capable of downing a plane at such a great altitude.
Naturally, not everyone is ready to hold the rebels responsible. Fast on Dzyadko's heels is Pro-Kremlin figure Konstantin Rykov, who accuses Dzyadko of rushing to judgment.
Дзядко уже провел расследование и нашел виновных pic.twitter.com/2EodbjiRTX
— Константин Рыков (@rykov) July 17, 2014
Dzyadko has already conducted an investigation and discovered who's guilty. [Dzyadko's tweet reads, “Now the ‘militants’ have really done it with their weapons from Russia.”]
Others have questioned why a civilian flight was crossing over Ukraine's rebel airspace in the first place.
Зона АТО закрыта для полетов гражданских судов, что делал там Боинг? pic.twitter.com/t8YQUA26NV
— Новороссия (@NovorossiaNews) July 17, 2014
The anti-terrorist zone is closed for civilian flights. So what was this Boeing aircraft doing there?
Of course, when in doubt, there is always the tried-and-true fallback of blaming the United States. Indeed, many Russians remember another incident that happened more than 30 years ago—Korean Air Lines Flight 007, which Soviet jets shot down west of Sakhalin Island in 1983, escalating tensions between the US and USSR.
Американцы никакие солдаты. Но они мастера провокаций. Война на востоке проиграна, поэтому им пришлось сбить малазийский самолет.
— Дмитрий Aгрaновский (@Agranovskiy) July 17, 2014
The Americans are no soldiers, but they are masters of the provocation. The war in the East is lost, so they decided to shoot down this Malaysian plane.
Ужасная трагедия с малазийским боингом. И, почему-то, мне все это сильно напоминает американскую провокацию с южнокорейским самолетом в 80-х
— Тигран Кеосаян (@KeosayanTigran) July 17, 2014
This story about the Malaysian Boeing is a terrible tragedy. And for some reason it really reminds me of the American provocation with the South Korean plane in the 1980s.
Details about the attack and the body count are emerging fast, but nothing rivals the speed with which Twitter spins conspiracy theories. In an environment as polarized and angry as the online debate about Ukraine's rebels, the facts probably never had a chance anyhow.