Crowd storms Dagestan airport in Russia after arrival of Israel flight

Russian President to call meeting to discuss incident in which about 20 people were injured as hundreds searched for Israeli passengers

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Washington on Monday called on Moscow to condemn a riot that broke out at the main airport in Russia's Dagestan region on Sunday, when hundreds of people stormed the tarmac searching for passengers following reports that a flight from Israel had arrived.

Meanwhile, Israel issued a “highest-level travel warning” for Dagestan.

“We condemn the violent anti-Semitic events that have been reported in Russia threatening Israelis and Jews,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.

“We call on Russian authorities to publicly condemn these violent protests, to hold those to hold anyone involved, accountable and to ensure the safety of Israelis and Jews in Russia.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin was expected to gather his advisers on Monday to discuss the incident, which the Kremlin described as the “West's attempts to use the events in the Middle East to split Russian society”.

Washington said Russian claim that outsiders or Ukraine were to blame

Russian authorities said the airport in Makhachkala is “provisionally closed” until November 6 after footage showed a large crowd of people inside the airport on Sunday, with some holding Palestinian flags.

Other videos showed protesters storming one plane with at least one jumping on the wing looking for passengers, Russian media reported.

People were also heard searching shouting anti-Semitic phrases and examining the passengers' passports, AP reported.

“Yesterday's events at Makhachkala Airport are, to a large extent, the result of external interference,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“Against the backdrop of TV footage showing the horrors of what is happening in the Gaza Strip – the deaths of people, children, old people, it is very easy for enemies to take advantage of and provoke the situation,” Mr Peskov added.

The plane's identification number showed that the Russian airline Red Wings had arrived from Tel Aviv at 7.17pm, according to flight-tracker service FlightRadar24.

The incident occurred at an airport in Makhachkala, the capital city of the predominantly Muslim Caucasus.

Rosaviatsia, Russia's aviation authority, said the group had been removed from the airport by 10.20pm local time. Russia's Investigative Committee says it has ordered a criminal investigation into the incident.

About 20 people were injured, with two in critical condition, the Dagestan Ministry of Health said. Police and protesters were among those injured.

The Dagestani government urged its citizens to react to “the current situation in the world with understanding”.

“Federal authorities and international organisations are making every effort to bring about a ceasefire against Gaza civilians … we urge residents of the republic not to succumb to the provocations of destructive groups and not to create panic in society,” it wrote on Telegram.

Dagestan Governor Sergei Melikov said the storming of the airport was a “gross violation of the law” and that those found responsible would face consequences.

“All Dagestanis empathise with the suffering of victims of the actions of unrighteous people and politicians pray for peace in Palestine,” he wrote on Telegram.

“But what happened at our airport is outrageous and should receive an appropriate assessment from law enforcement agencies. And this will definitely be done.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said the country's ambassador is working with Russian authorities to protect the well-being of Jewish people and Israeli citizens.

“The State of Israel views with utmost gravity attempts to harm Israeli citizens and Jews anywhere,” Mr Netanyahu's office said on X.

Updated: October 30, 2023, 6:53 PM