The anti-Semitic riot that occurred at Makhachkala Airport in Russia’s Republic of Dagestan on Sunday has drawn comparisons to the anti-Jewish pogroms of the 20th century, according to officials from the US State Department and White House. These officials have also denied any involvement by the United States in the unrest, after Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that Western intelligence services were behind the violence.
During a press briefing in Washington DC on Monday, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller stated, “I saw the video, as I’m sure all of you did. It looked like a pogrom to me.” His assessment was supported by John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council in the White House, who remarked, “Some people have compared it to the pogroms of the late 19th and early 20th century, and I think that’s probably an apt description.” Kirby also accused the Kremlin of failing to condemn the riot.
In response to these statements, Russian ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, criticized the Biden administration’s reaction as an attempt to destabilize the “ethno-religious unity of the Russian Federation.” Antonov argued that the US leadership was disappointed that Russian authorities swiftly quelled the “destabilization risks instigated from abroad.”
President Putin himself addressed the events in Makhachkala on Monday, alleging that they were inspired through social networks, including from Ukraine, by agents of Western intelligence services. He also condemned Israel’s actions in Gaza as unjustifiable “collective punishment” of civilians and blamed the “ruling elite of the US and its satellites” for the recent flare-up.
During the riot at Makhachkala Airport, around 150 individuals, some of whom were waving Palestinian flags and shouting “Allahu Akbar,” stormed the airport and its runways in search of Israeli nationals arriving in Dagestan’s capital. Russian authorities claim that the violence was fueled by false information spread through a Ukraine-linked Telegram channel called “Utro Dagestan” (Dagestan Morning). Telegram has since blocked the channel for inciting hatred.
The US officials’ comparison of the riot to past pogroms highlights the alarming nature of the violence in Dagestan. Pogroms, which were organized attacks on Jewish communities, resulted in countless deaths, destruction, and widespread persecution of Jews. By making this comparison, the officials are expressing their concern about the severity and possible consequences of the anti-Semitic unrest in Makhachkala.
Furthermore, the denial of US involvement in the unrest demonstrates the strained relations between Russia and the United States. The accusations from President Putin regarding Western intelligence services’ role in instigating the violence reflect the ongoing tensions between Russia and the West. Both sides have engaged in a war of words, with each blaming the other for various incidents and conflicts.
While it remains unclear who exactly was responsible for the anti-Semitic riot, it is vital for Russian authorities to investigate the incident thoroughly and hold those responsible accountable. It is also crucial for international leaders and organizations to condemn any form of violence and discrimination, including anti-Semitism, and work towards promoting peace, understanding, and tolerance among all communities.
The riot in Makhachkala serves as a reminder that hatred and intolerance still persist in today’s society. It is essential for governments, organizations, and individuals to come together to address these issues, promote respect for all religions and ethnicities, and ensure the safety and wellbeing of all people, regardless of their backgrounds. Only through unity and cooperation can we hope to create a world free from discrimination and violence.