Could they have had to do with the Chechen elections coming up? Ask Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. However, the Russians and Chechens are denying this at this point. From AP:
BUCHALKI, Russia – Russian emergency workers searched through heaps of twisted metal and tall grass Wednesday for clues to what caused two airliners to plunge to Earth almost simultaneously, killing all 89 people aboard and raising concerns of a terrorist strike. Officials said one of the jets sent a distress signal that may have indicated a hijacking.
Russia’s main intelligence agency, however, said it had found no evidence of terrorism in initial investigations at the crash sites. The Federal Security Service, or FSB, said it was investigating other possibilities such as technical failures, the use of poor quality fuel, breaches of fueling regulations and pilot error, its press service told The Associated Press. Rain and thunder was reported in the regions where both crashes occurred.
A Sibir airlines Tu-154 jet, carrying 46 people, took off from Moscow’s newly redeveloped Domodedovo airport at 9:35 p.m. Tuesday and the other plane, a Tu-134 carrying 43 people, left 40 minutes later, according to state-run Rossiya television. The Tu-134 was headed to the southern city of Volgograd, while the other plane was flying to the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, where President Vladimir Putin is vacationing.
The planes disappeared from radar screens about 11 p.m., and by early Wednesday morning, the wreckage of both had been found “” with no survivors. Domodedovo airport said in a statement that both planes “went through the standard procedure of preparation for flight …(and) the procedures were carried out properly.”
Uncertainty over the cause of the crashes came after Sibir said that it was notified that its jet had activated a hijack or seizure signal shortly before disappearing from radar screens. Officials said the crew of the other plane gave no indication that anything was wrong, but witnesses on the ground reported hearing a series of explosions.
“There were three loud bangs on the window, like someone knocking,” said Nikolai Gorokhov, a local resident who was in his home at the time of the crash.
The Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed Russian aviation security expert as saying the fact that the two planes disappeared around the same time raised suspicions of terrorism….
Officials had expressed concern that separatists [that is, jihadists] in war-ravaged Chechnya might carry out attacks ahead of a regional election Sunday to replace the pro-Moscow president who was killed in a May bombing. Chechen rebels have been blamed for a series of terror strikes that have claimed hundreds of lives in Russia in recent years.
Rebel representative Akhmed Zakayev told Russia’s Ekho Moskvy radio from London that Chechen rebel forces and rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov were in no way connected to the near simultaneous crashes.