James Kilner, Editor of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, joins the podcast to discuss a particularly chilling example of the rise of anti-semitism in the North Caucasus:

The big story last night was this crowd, or mob, whatever you want to call it, of a thousand, or some reports say two thousand, very angry, mainly young men charging into and taking over the International Airport at Makhachkala, the biggest city in Dagestan, the capital.

They charged in, overwhelmed the security guards, and then they were looking for Jews. So they’d been whipped up into fury, they’d been having a protest and then a flight from Israel was landing. Anti Semitic sentiments have been rising in the North Caucasus, and they were literally hunting for Jews.

Podcast host David Knowles then asks James what he makes of these anti-semitic protests in regards to the authority of the Kremlin as the police seem to stand aside for quite a lot of this. James responds: 

When you get out into the regions of Russia, the quality of the police force really drops hugely, it’s incomparable to the police forces in Moscow and St. Petersburg where the specialist police units are there and they’ve got very well trained riot police, etc. so I’m not at all surprised by the relative incompetence of the police, initially at least. 

It does seem that the authorities started to realise that they had a very, very serious situation on their hands, basically when it became too late and they’d lost control of the airport. I literally mean the airport was captured by protesters. And then they called in some heavy reinforcements, and then that’s when the fighting started and the arrests happened. 

The kremlin’s already trying to portray this as a the result of outside influence, so they’re already trying to say this is not a domestic internal problem.

James counters this view, putting forward his own analysis of how this reached boiling point:

My personal opinion is that this is rooted in huge poverty and huge disparities in wealth and opportunities in someone like Dagestan. Something like 75 percent of the budget in Dagestan is handed down by central government.

There’s very few job opportunities. It’s a very poor place. The Russian army has been recruiting very heavily for its war Ukraine in Dagestan, as it has done in lots of non-core Russian regions, if you like, ethnically diverse, often Muslim regions. So all this frustration is boiling over.

I think the Kremlin might find it very hard to put a lid back on it now. We have Jewish culture centres being burned, lots of highly incendiary graffiti appearing, et cetera. The Kremlin is possibly starting to get worried, Putin’s called a meeting this morning to talk to his main guys about this.

Listen to Ukraine: the Latest, The Telegraph’s daily podcast, using the audio player at the top of this article or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favourite podcast app.

War in Ukraine is reshaping our world. Every weekday The Telegraph’s top journalists analyse the invasion from all angles – military, humanitarian, political, economic, historical – and tell you what you need to know to stay updated.

With over 55 million downloads, our Ukraine: The Latest podcast is your go-to source for all the latest analysis, live reaction and correspondents reporting on the ground. We have been broadcasting ever since the full-scale invasion began.

Ukraine: The Latest’s regular contributors are:

David Knowles

David is Head of Audio Development at The Telegraph, where he has worked for nearly three years. He has reported from across Ukraine during the full-scale invasion. 

Dominic Nicholls

Dom is Associate Editor (Defence) at The Telegraph, having joined in 2018. He previously served for 23 years in the British Army, in tank and helicopter units. He had operational deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland. 

Francis Dearnley

Francis is assistant comment editor at The Telegraph. Prior to working as a journalist, he was chief of staff to the Chair of the Prime Minister’s Policy Board at the Houses of Parliament in London. He studied History at Cambridge University and on the podcast explores how the past shines a light on the latest diplomatic, political, and strategic developments.

They are also regularly joined by The Telegraph’s foreign correspondents around the world, including Joe Barnes (Brussels), Sophia Yan (China), Nataliya Vasilyeva (Russia), Roland Oliphant (Senior Reporter) and Colin Freeman (Reporter). 

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