Israeli Ambassador in Moscow, Alexander Ben Zvi, suggested that Israeli authorities may issue a travel advisory urging its citizens to avoid Russia’s Muslim-majority Caucasus regions. Ben Zvi’s comments came in response to an incident that occurred on Sunday, where an angry mob forced its way onto an airport runway in Dagestan in search of “Israeli refugees.”
Speaking to Russian-language international media outlet RTVI, Ben Zvi stated that there may be recommendations for Israeli nationals to refrain from visiting Russia’s Muslim republics. However, he clarified that such an advisory would only apply to those specific regions and not other parts of Russia. Ben Zvi further mentioned that Israeli authorities would give their approval for travel to these regions if local authorities assured them that the situation was under control and that it was safe.
When asked about the possibility of suspending flights to Dagestan, the ambassador did not rule out the option, stating that it would depend on the overall situation in the region.
The unrest in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, was not solely attributed to communication on a single Telegram channel, according to Ben Zvi. He claimed that the unrest was the result of various sources spreading extremist Islamist propaganda.
Confirming the presence of Israeli citizens on the targeted plane in Makhachkala, the ambassador assured that none of them or the dual Russian-Israeli citizens were injured during the incident.
Meanwhile, addressing top Russian officials, President Vladimir Putin attributed the events in Dagestan to social media networks and alleged agents of Western special services operating from Ukraine. He also criticized Israel’s approach, accusing them of implementing “collective punishment” tactics against civilians in Gaza. Putin blamed the recent escalation of tension in the region on the ruling elite of the US and its allies.
During Sunday’s unrest, approximately 150 individuals stormed the airport and its runways, waving Palestinian flags and shouting “Allahu Akbar,” in search of Israeli nationals arriving in Makhachkala, the capital of the Muslim-majority Republic of Dagestan.
Russian authorities have claimed that the violence was instigated by fake news spread on a Telegram channel with connections to Ukraine. In response, Telegram has already blocked the channel called “Utro Dagestan” (Dagestan Morning) for inciting hatred.
In summary, the Israeli ambassador in Moscow has indicated the possibility of a travel advisory for Israeli citizens to avoid Russia’s Muslim-majority Caucasus regions following the recent airport riot in Dagestan. However, any such advisory would be specific to those regions and is contingent upon local authorities ensuring safety. President Putin has criticized Israel and blamed Western special services for the unrest, while Russian authorities have linked the violence to fake news spread on a Ukraine-linked Telegram channel.