The text-message claim seems to have been inspired by the failure of officials last summer to warn residents of Krymsk, in southern Russia, of a flood they knew was coming.
Remarkably, the Ministry of Emergency Situations announced Friday night that the offending official — unnamed — had been fired.
Sergei Parkhomenko, a former science editor turned political writer, speaking on the Ekho Moskvy radio station, said authorities had lived up to popular expectations.
"As we can see, the first reaction is this: 'Everybody lies,' " he said. "The second: 'Everything is stolen.' That's what we hear in response to various statements by all officials — local, regional and federal. People are treated with great disdain, and there is a huge variety of fantasies, fears, some panic and so on. Why is this happening? From distrust."
Of course, a meteor streaking in unbidden from space on an otherwise normal day to shower destruction on a city of more than 1 million was unnerving enough on its own.
It was "the Lord's message to humanity," said Feofan, the Russian Orthodox metropolitan of Chelyabinsk and Zlatoust, in a statement reported by the RIA Novosti agency.
"From the scriptures, we know that the Lord often sends people signs and warnings via natural forces," he said. "I think that not only for the Ural [region's] residents, but for the whole of humanity, the meteorite is a reminder that we live in a fragile and unpredictable world."