Kremlin Claims Ukraine ‘Interference’ Responsible for Jew Hunting Muslim Mob at Dagestan Airport

People in the crowd walk shouting antisemitic slogans at an airfield of the airport in Mak
AP Photo

The Kremlin and Russian state media have attempted to shift the blame onto Ukraine and other foreign “interference” for the shocking scenes witnessed in Dagestan on Sunday when an angry mob of Muslims waving Palestinian flags stormed an airport to search for “Jewish refugees” following rumours online of a plane arriving from Israel.

In deeply embarrassing events for Moscow which unfolded at the Makhachkala airport in the Russian-controlled republic of Dagestan on Sunday evening, hoards of mostly young men chanting “Allahu Akbar” ransacked the airport in a desperate search to prevent Jewish people from entering the country. Not only did the mob clash with Russian riot police and damage the infrastructure of the building, but also broke onto the tarmac and went plane by plane demanding passengers present their passports to prove they were not from Israel.

Moscow has sought to lay the blame on Ukraine, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said according to Russian state-owned press agency RIA Novosti: “It is well known and obvious that yesterday’s event around the Makhachkala airport is largely the result of outside interference, including information influence from outside.”

State-owned media outlet RT went on to claim that the Muslim mob was provoked by “online rumours” spread by Ukraine. A report from the Russian government broadcaster claimed that a Telegram channel “Dagestan Morning”, was instrumental in organising the action at the airport while alleging that the channel was tied to Kyiv.

The “Dagestan Morning” channel does appear to have been coordinating the mob to some degree, giving lengthy instructions to those storming the airport as well as supposed flight details for a plane from Israel. One message read: “LET’S NOT ALLOW PALESTINE TO HAPPEN IN DAGESTAN!!! Turn around the ship with ‘refugees’ right now! At 19:00!!!”

“We call on all brothers in their republics to track arrivals from Israel and greet them as hospitably as we do!!! The descendants of the monkeys thought that they could get away with anything – not this time!!! You scum will chew and swallow your passports all over the world!!! In sha Allah!!” another message said.

RT alleged that the Telegram channel was an asset of former Russian lawmaker Ilya Ponomarev, who defected from Moscow to Kyiv and joined the Territorial Defense Forces of Ukraine.

However, both the Telegram channel and Ponomarev have denied that there is any coordination. A post on ‘Dagestan Morning’ on Monday said that the owners and administrators of the account are “completely independent from anyone” and that the owner is from Dagestan and is a Muslim.

The channel went on to “condemn the irresistible position of President Zelensky’s office in supporting the Zionist, bastard regime of Israel,” adding: “Ukraine will be an enemy for us if it is against Muslims!”

Ponomarev, whom Russia has labelled as a fugitive and a foreign agent, said that while there was contact with the account initially during an attempt to spark an armed uprising against what some local Muslims see as a Russian occupation of their lands, the former Duma MP said that there has been no contact with the Telegram channel in over a year.

“The channel is conducted by completely independent people with their own position, and on many issues it does not coincide with the position of Ilya and his like-minded people. In particular, this is the topic of the Hamas attack on Israel, and even more so – anti-Semitic campaign unleashed by aggressive Islamists,” a statement released from his office said.

Dagestan State Duma lawmaker from Sultan Khamzaev called for a shutdown of VPNs and a ban on Telegram in the Russian-controlled republic in response to the actions at the airport, claiming to have evidence of “bots” from Ukraine fanning local tensions.

“Yesterday and today I have been recording a massive influx of bots on social networks. I associate the activation of pro-Ukrainian bots with yesterday’s attempt to destabilize the internal political situation in Dagestan… The main platform for distributing fakes is not only Telegram… It’s time to turn off all VPNs and install a real one a ban on using this social network,” Khamzaev said.

The Ministry of Health of Dagestan reported that approximately 20 people were injured during clashes with Russian riot police, several of whom were also injured. Local law enforcement has identified over 150 people involved in violent rioting, 60 of whom have been detained so far.

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