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November 1, 2023 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1723

Pogrom In Russia's Republic Of Dagestan

November 1, 2023 | By A. Strandberg*
Russia | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1723

On October 29, 2023, an angry crowd of hundreds of people stormed the airport in Makhachkala, which is the capital of the North Caucasus Republic of Dagestan searching for "Jahuds [Jews]," as a plane coming from Israel was supposed to transfer at the airport. The mob was chanting "We are against Jewish refugees [i.e., people arriving to Russia from Israel]"[1] and waving Palestinian flags.

It is worth noting that since the war in Ukraine began, there have not been direct flights from Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv to Moscow. All flights to Russia from Tel Aviv are now landing in Dagestan, from which connections can be made to other cities in Russia. Many Russian media outlets have described the events at the Makhachkala airport as a "pogrom."[2]


(Source: Twitter)


(Source: Twitter)


(Source: Twitter)

What Happened At The Makhachkala Airport

Describing the events in the mainly Muslim republic of Dagestan, the Russian media outlet Moscow Times reported: "The demonstration was prompted by calls spread on the Telegram messaging app earlier on Sunday to block a plane purportedly carrying refugees from Israel and scheduled to arrive directly from Tel Aviv." The authorities claim that the source of these messages was the "Utro Dagestan" Telegram channel, which has since been deleted.


The Telegram Channel @Chp_kavkaz  showed one the messages that were spread online: "!!Attention!! [Today] we are welcoming unwelcomed guests. We should be at the airport by 7 pm today. We need to gather as many people as possible at the airport by 7 and let the plane with these Najis [unclean] turn around and fly away. Maximum repost! Let's meet them 'as adults should' [a common expression of a threat]" (Source: t.me/chp_kavkaz)

"According to local media in Dagestan, some of the demonstrators were stopping cars outside Makhachkala's airport to check the personal identification documents of drivers and passengers as they searched for Israeli citizens among the motorists.

"The flight from Tel Aviv landed at 7:17 pm local time, according to the airport's website, after which the demonstration devolved into a riot, with crowds storming into the airport, breaking past security and running onto the tarmac. One group of people who ran onto the airport's tarmac surrounded a plane and jumped onto its wings," the pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia reported.

"Videos shared online showed what appeared to be riot police arriving at the airport and rioters lying on the tarmac as police walked around them. Russia's civil aviation agency said later that all rioters had been removed from the airport, without specifying whether any of them were detained. It added that all flights to and from the airport would be suspended until 3 am on November 6 due to the security breach."[3]

It is worth noting that many observers underlined the idleness of the police forces and of the authorities in stopping the angry mob. Only around 8 pm officials started to come to the site.[4] According to the authorities 83 men were detained.[5]

At the time that police arrived, the "Utro Dagestan" Telegram channel wrote: "‼️Makhachkala are you asleep?! Get ready – tomorrow is your day!!! If anyone is detained today, we will organize an all-Dagestan rally tomorrow!!!! I'm warning you musora [a slur for the police]! We know that many of you are on our side, but today is a special day!!!! If there will be detentions, especially if there will be brutal ones, we will take ALL DAGESTAN to the streets tomorrow!!!! In sha Allah!!! Get it through your heads!!!!"[6]


(Source: T.me/utro_dagestan)

"Do Not Rent Apartments" To "Jewish Refugees"

The riots at the airport are coming after an increase of anti-Jewish rhetoric spread online, which has been exacerbated after the start of the war in Gaza. A day before the riots on October 28, renowned Dagestani media personality Hasbulla Nurmagomedov posted a call on his Telegram channel to deny services to "Jewish refugees."[7] His post read: "We are against Jewish refugees! [...] Do not rent them apartments, do not sell them housing, do not provide them with taxi services, do not serve them in your establishments. You are all witness to that gratitude Palestine received for granting them refuge. Today Palestinian kids die from their hands, tomorrow it could happen to our people."[8] Most of the reactions to this post were supportive.


(Source: T.me/hasbullamagomedov/)

On the same day, on October 28, in the city of Khasavyurt, in Dagestan, people stormed the "Flamingo" hotel, as it was believed that "Jewish refugees" were checked into the hotel. Protesters searched for "Jewish refugees" in every room in the hotel but found no one.

 


Men searching the hotel for "Jewish refugees" (Source: T.me/chp_kavkaz/16884)

The "Flamingo" hotel staff even had to put a notice stating: "ENTRY IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED for Foreigners – citizens of ISRAEL (JEWS)!!! AND THEY DO NOT LIVE HERE!!!"


(Source: T.me/chp_kavkaz/)

Rallies Against Jews In The Republic Of Karachay-Cherkessia

On October 28, a rally was also held in Cherkessk, the capital of Karachay-Cherkessia, located in the northwestern Caucasus. Protesters demanded entry restrictions for "Jewish refugees" from Israel. On the morning of October 29, the Jewish community center in Nalchik (Kabardino-Balkaria) was set on fire, and protestors wrote on the walls: "Death to Yahuds! [Jews]."[9]

For now, other Russian republics in the Caucasus, such as Chechnya, Ingushetia, Tatarstan, and Bashkortostan, have had no cases of mass pogroms.


The graffiti on the wall (right) reads, "Death to Yahuds! [Jews]" (Source: T.me/chp_kavkaz/16895?single)

*Anatoly Strandberg is a MEMRI Senior Research Fellow.

 

[1] Themoscowtimes.com/2023/10/29/russia-says-downed-36-ukrainian-drones-over-black-sea-and-crimea-a82924, October 29, 2023.

[2] Lenta.ru/news/2023/10/30/mraz-da-i-tolko-putin-vyskazalsya-o-pogromah-v-dagestane-i-nazval-ih-organizatorov/, October 30, 2023.

[3] Themoscowtimes.com/2023/10/29/russia-says-downed-36-ukrainian-drones-over-black-sea-and-crimea-a82924, October 29, 2023.

[4] T.me/melikov05/1540

[5] Tass.com/pressreview/1699391, October 31, 2023

[6] T.me/utro_dagestan/15087

[7] T.me/hasbullamagomedov/172 

[8] T.me/hasbullamagomedov/172 

[9] T.me/chp_kavkaz/16895?single

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