The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin has begun moves to deflect blame from the Kremlin over a riot in the southern region of Dagestan that targeted a flight from Israel, charging without evidence that Ukrainian agents of Western spy agencies were behind the rampage.
Africa Today News, New York reports that no fewer than 20 people were hurt — none Israelis — in the clashes Sunday night that Putin cast as part of U.S. efforts to weaken Russia.
Hundreds of angry men, some carrying banners with antisemitic slogans, rushed onto the tarmac of the airport in Makhachkala, the capital of the predominantly Muslim region, looking for Israeli passengers on the flight from Tel Aviv.
Police officers and civilians were injured and two of them were in critical condition, regional health authorities said. More than 80 people were detained in the unrest, according to police. Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened a criminal probe on charges of organizing mass unrest.
John Kirby, a spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council, described Putin’s claim that Western organisations were responsible for the violence as “classic Russian rhetoric.”
‘The West had nothing to do with this,’ he added, criticizing Putin for not doing more to condemn the violence, which he described as ‘a chilling demonstration of hate.’
Russia has issued carefully calibrated criticism of both sides in the war between Israel and Hamas, a conflict that is giving Moscow new opportunities to advance its role as a global power broker and challenge Western efforts to isolate it over Ukraine.
Speaking to top government officials in televised comments, Putin said the Israel-Hamas war had been triggered by “the terrorist attack against peaceful citizens of Israel and other countries” but said that the Israeli response indiscriminately targeted civilians “who have nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.”
Video and photos on social media showed some in the crowd waving Palestinian flags and shouting “Allahu akbar!” or “God is great,” as they broke into the airport terminal. Some held handwritten banners saying, “Child killers are not welcome in Dagestan” and “We’re against Jewish refugees.”
Some rushed onto the tarmac Sunday night and surrounded the jet belonging to the Russian carrier Red Wings, only to find it empty. Others stopped a bus carrying passengers from the flight from Israel, including some children who underwent medical treatment and their parents, and started examining their passports. They eventually let them go after some passengers on the bus who had dual Russian and Israeli citizenship showed their Russian passports, according to Russian media reports.
It took the authorities several hours to disperse the mob, which hurled stones at police.
Putin avoided any assessment of the authorities’ response to the airport’s seizure but launched a new attack against the U.S. on Monday, blaming it for sowing chaos in the Middle East and fueling the fighting in Ukraine.
“The ruling elites of the U.S. and its satellites are the main beneficiaries of the global instability,” Putin said. “They are earning their bloody rent from it.”
Without offering evidence, he also accused “agents of Western special services” in Ukraine of using social networks to provoke the rampages in Dagestan to weaken Russia.