MOSCOW: A mob overran an airport in Russia’s Caucasus republic of Dagestan on Sunday, after rumours spread that a flight was arriving from Israel.
However, on Monday Russia blamed “external interference” and singled out Ukraine for a riot in Dagestan. The governor of Dagestan promised that those responsible for the incident would be punished, and the republic’s interior ministry said later that 60 people had been arrested in the unrest.
On Sunday, dozens of protesters broke through doors and barriers at Makhachkala airport, with some charging onto the runway, according to videos posted on social media and Russia’s RT and Izvestia media.
Russia’s aviation agency Rosaviatsiya announced shortly afterwards that it had closed the airport to incoming and outgoing flights and that security forces had arrived. However, later announced the airport reopened on Monday, according to AFP.
Authorities detain 60 people after unrest
A statement from the republic’s health ministry said there had been injuries, but did not elaborate on how many or who had been hurt.
Multiple videos showed a crowd inside an airport terminal trying to break down doors as staff members tried to deter them.
Flight tracking website Flightradar24 indicated that a Red Wings flight out of Tel Aviv had landed at Makhachkala at 7pm (1600 GMT). The independent Russian media outlet Sota said it was a transiting flight that had been due to take off again for Moscow two hours later.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin announced President Vladimir Putin will gather top advisers and spy chiefs later to discuss the “West’s attempts to use the events in the Middle East to split Russian society.”
“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,” Peskov told reporters.
Russia’s foreign ministry later singled out Kyiv.
A senior Ukrainian official said that Kyiv had nothing to do with unrest in Dagestan region, rejecting an accusation by Russia to that effect as groundless.
Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2023