Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday alleged that the anti-Israel riot in Dagestan, in which a pro-Palestinian mob stormed a Russian airport to look for Jewish passengers aboard a flight from Tel Aviv, was organised by Western countries and Ukraine, BBC reported.
Hundreds of protesters stormed into the main airport in Dagestan and onto the landing field on Sunday, chanting antisemitic slogans and attempting to intercept passengers arriving on a flight from Israel.
In Makhachkala, the capital of the primarily Muslim province, authorities closed the airport, and police gathered at the site. According to Dagestan’s Ministry of Health, more than 20 people were injured with two in critical condition.
The Russian Aviation Authority closed the airport until the completion of security checks and diverted some flights. It later resumed control of the airfield after the situation was controlled, but said that the airport would remain closed to incoming aircraft until November 6. More than 60 people were detained.
What did Putin say?
“The events in Makhachkala last night were instigated through social networks, not least from Ukraine, by the hands of agents of Western special services… Who is organising the deadly chaos and who benefits from it today, in my opinion, has already become obvious,” Putin told a meeting of the Security Council of Russia.
Putin also blamed the “ruling elites” of the United States and their satellites, and said that they were the main beneficiaries of world instability. The governor of Dagestan, Sergei Melikov, also said the riots had been incited “from the territory of Ukraine by traitors”.
Additionally, the Kremlin on Monday blamed the unrest on “outside interference,” and Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the meeting will discuss “attempts by the West to use the events in the Middle East to divide the (Russian) society.” Putin had called a meeting of top security and law enforcement officials on Monday, a day after the incident.
US rejects ‘absurd’ claims
When asked about the claims at the White House briefing, US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby called it “classic Russian rhetoric” and slammed the Kremlin for not condemning the violent riot and calling for a “stoppage of hate, discrimination and bigotry towards Jews”.
“It’s classic Russian rhetoric, isn’t it? When something goes bad in your country, just blame somebody else, blame it on outside influences. The West had nothing to do with this, this is just hate, bigotry and intimidation, pure and simple,” said Kirby.
He also said comparisons between footage from the airport and the pogroms of the late 19th and early 20th century were “apt”.
Video on social media showed some in the crowd waving Palestinian flags and others trying to overturn a police car. Antisemitic slogans can be heard being shouted and some in the crowd examined the passports of arriving passengers, apparently in an attempt to identify those who were Israeli.
How did Israel respond?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office in a statement said that “Israel expects the Russian authorities to protect all Israeli citizens and all Jews, and to act decisively against the rioters and against incitement to violence against Jews and Israelis.”
The Israel foreign ministry in Jerusalem said the Israeli ambassador in Moscow was working with Russian authorities. “The State of Israel views gravely attempts to harm Israeli citizens and Jews anywhere,” it said.