October 30, 2023

Institute for the Study of War: Putin says Ukraine is behind the anti-Israel riots in Dagestan

Institute for the Study of War

Russian officials announced that Russian law enforcement suppressed the antisemitic riots in Makhachkala, Republic of Dagestan on October 30. The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) stated that employees of the MVD and other law enforcement agencies suppressed mass riots in Makhachkala and restored order at the local airport after identifying over 150 participants and detaining 60 rioters. The MVD also claimed that rioters injured at least nine police officers and that searches for other rioters are ongoing. Dagestan Head Sergey Melikov claimed that he personally inspected the Makhachkala airport, which sustained minor damage, and claimed that the MVD and Rosgvardia used physical force as a last resort in hopes of calming the mob with reason. Russian sources claimed that rioters threw stones at law enforcement and that officers responded by firing guns into the air. Melikov stated that unspecified foreign actors, including pro-Ukrainian Telegram channels, are attempting to destabilize the region and claimed that the Telegram channel that published the rumors of the arrival of “Israeli refugees” in Dagestan was managed from Ukrainian territory.

Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to the October 29 antisemitic demonstrations in Dagestan by accusing Ukraine of trying to “instigate pogroms in Russia” under Western guidance. Putin claimed during a meeting with members of the Russian Security Council on October 30 that demonstrations in Makhachkala “were inspired, among other things, through social networks, from Ukraine’s territory by Western intelligence services.” Putin added that the West is trying to use regional conflicts to break Russia from within, and tasked regional authorities with undertaking “firm, timely and clear actions to protect the constitutional system of Russia, the rights and freedoms of [Russian] citizens, interethnic and interreligious harmony.” Putin did not specify which measures Russia will undertake to resolve interreligious conflicts and antisemitism in Russia, however. Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov did not comment on the measures that could be taken against the demonstrators. Kremlin officials largely reiterated similar statements prior to Putin’s speech and refrained from directly condemning the rioters, and the Kremlin’s narrative about foreign involvement in the riots is likely an attempt to deflect from the international criticism of antisemitism and growing animosity towards ethnic and religious minorities in Russia.

Ukrainian forces made confirmed advances near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast on October 30. Geolocated footage posted on October 30 shows that Ukrainian forces have advanced northeast of Kurdyumivka (10km southwest of Bakhmut). Additional geolocated footage from October 29 indicates that Ukrainian forces have marginally advanced west of Robotyne in western Zaporizhia Oblast. The Ukrainian General Staff reiterated that Ukrainian forces are continuing offensive actions near Bakhmut and offensive operations in the Melitopol (western Zaporizhia Oblast) direction.

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian officials announced that Russian law enforcement suppressed antisemitic riots in Makhachkala, Republic of Dagestan on October 30. Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to the October 29 antisemitic demonstrations in Dagestan by accusing Ukraine of trying to “instigate pogroms in Russia” under Western guidance.
  • A minority of Russian officials directly condemned rioters and regional authorities for ignoring antisemitic attitudes in Dagestan.
  • The October 29 riots in Dagestan highlight the growing radicalization and factionalism of Russian society resulting from the hyper-nationalist ideologies that the war in Ukraine has empowered.
  • Unidentified Russian soldiers reportedly murdered a Ukrainian family in occupied Volnovakha, Donetsk Oblast, further highlighting a threatening environment of violence that is pervasive throughout occupied areas of Ukraine. Several Russian commentators exploited the circumstances of the tragedy in Volnovakha to accuse Ukraine of trying to stoke interethnic tensions within the Russian information space.
  • Ukrainian forces made confirmed advances near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast on October 30.
  • Russian forces continue to use “Storm-Z” assault units predominantly made up of prisoner recruits in highly attritional infantry-led frontal assaults.
  • Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu highlighted the allegedly cooperative nature of the Russian-Chinese relationship at the 10th Beijing Xiangshan Forum on October 30.
  • Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, near Avdiivka, west and southwest of Donetsk City, in the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast on October 30 and advanced in some areas.
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