What do Russians think happened to Prigozhin?
Following the recent reports about the alleged death of the Wagner group head, Yevgeny Prigozhin, in a plane crash in the Tver oblast, we initiated a survey to gauge the perceptions of the Russian populace regarding this incident. Beginning a day post the news release, we sought insights to better understand the predominant sentiments surrounding the incident.
A significant portion of the respondents exhibited a sense of uncertainty regarding the incident:
- Uncertainty: A plurality, accounting for approximately 40%, conveyed they were either uncertain or chose not to respond to the query concerning Prigozhin's fate.
- Denial of Death: The next predominant sentiment, expressed by 14% of the participants, posited that Prigozhin might not have actually perished.
- Technical Glitch: 13% of respondents speculated that the mishap was potentially due to an operator error or an aircraft malfunction.
On the more conspiratorial side: * External Sabotage: Nearly 10% of those surveyed believed that the plane could have been shot down by Russian air defenses, met its end due to foreign sabotage, or was targeted by what they referred to as a "Ukrainian terrorist attack." * Internal Sabotage: A smaller minority, constituting about 5%, postulated the theory of sabotage by a Russian entity. It's imperative to mention that participants in this survey were restricted to a single response, and the options provided to them were predetermined.
Putin's Approval Ratings:
While the public opinion on Prigozhin's incident seems to be divided, President Putin's approval ratings have witnessed consistency over the recent weeks.
Red Line: Represents the date of the aforementioned plane crash, i.e., 23 August. Blue Line: Depicts the daily percentage of respondents affirming either a "complete" or "general" approval of President Putin's leadership.
In a recent update, Russian investigative bodies have proclaimed that genetic tests have identified Yevgeny Prigozhin among the casualties of the crash. Contrarily, Western authorities are leaning towards the theory of an onboard explosion as the likely cause. Russian officials, however, maintain that they are still in the process of investigating the potential causes of this tragedy.