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30 Oct, 2023 19:13

Telegram blocks Ukraine-linked channel inciting violence in Russia

‘Dagestan Morning’ has been blamed for the anti-Jewish riot at Makhachkala airport
Telegram blocks Ukraine-linked channel inciting violence in Russia

The social media and messaging platform Telegram has banned ‘Utro Dagestan’ (Dagestan Morning), a channel with 65,000 subscribers that has been accused of inciting Sunday’s anti-Semitic riot in Dagestan. The tech group's founder, Pavel Durov, made the announcement on Monday afternoon.

“Channels that call for violence – such as this one, in the screenshot, will be banned for violating the rules of Telegram, Google, Apple,  and the entire civilized world,” Durov posted on his Russian-language channel.

The screenshots identified the offender as ‘Dagestan Morning’, which has been exposed as a Ukrainian intelligence service project set up to stir ethnic and religious unrest in Russia. 

A post in the screenshot proclaimed “We hate Jews” and “we will not let them live in Dagestan or the Caucasus,” claiming that “Jewish refugees” bound for the Russian republic were on board the regularly scheduled flight from Tel Aviv to Makhachkala.

On Sunday afternoon, over 150 rioters broke onto the runway of the airport in the Dagestani capital and tried to storm the plane. Police were able to restore order after heavy clashes that left more than 20 people – including nine officers – injured. Sixty rioters were arrested. 

Russia’s Muslim leaders have condemned the riot as unacceptable. So has the head of Dagestan, Sergey Melikov. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that the unrest was “obviously” incited from abroad. 

‘Dagestan Morning’ was swiftly identified as the most likely culprit. Posing as a local outlet, the Telegram channel has received lavish funding from Kiev since the Ukraine conflict escalated in February 2022. Former Russian lawmaker Ilya Ponomarev, who fled to Kiev in 2016 and became a citizen of Ukraine, has openly admitted to the channel being one of “their” assets. 

Ponomarev has served as a proxy for Kiev to claim that the terrorist attacks against Russian journalist Darya Dugina and military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky were the work of “Russian dissidents.” US intelligence has recently confirmed, however, that CIA-backed Ukrainian spies were behind both assassinations, just as Moscow has said.