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26 Feb, 2019 11:35

Producer ‘receives threats’ after Khabib criticizes staging of ‘insulting’ play in Dagestan

Producer ‘receives threats’ after Khabib criticizes staging of ‘insulting’ play in Dagestan

The producer of a play condemned by Khabib Nurmagomedov as “filth” after it was staged in his Dagestani homeland has apologized, saying that he has received direct threats following the Russian MMA star’s criticism.

UFC lightweight champion Nurmagomedov took to social media on Monday to voice his fury at the staging of the play, whose title translates as ‘Hunting for Men’, in Dagestan.

The fighter shared an image from the performance – billed as an "action-packed comedy" – in which the female lead character is seen in lingerie, seducing a man.

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Nurmagomedov, a devout Muslim, branded the play “filth” and demanded to know why it was being shown in his home republic.

The producer of the play, Ivan Zhidkov, who also stars in it, has now issued a direct apology over social media for any offense caused, revealing that he had received direct threats amid the backlash.  

“On behalf of the creative group of the project, I apologize for any unintended offense to people in Dagestan,” Zhidkov wrote in social media post.

“The performance was in no way intended to show ‘indecency.’ It’s a classic Italian play, which has been performed around the world for many years.

 “…The bed scene [referred to by Khabib] is part of the performance. We did not suspect that it could cause such resonance.

“[My direct messages] are littered with threats. I understand that this is the answer to our intended offense, but still…,” he added.

“Every people has its traditions and foundations, and we respect that, but we did not take into account that everything was so strict.

“They invited us, and we came with pleasure. What happened, I think, makes one think about the censorship of many who want to organize a concert or performance in Dagestan.”

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Nurmagomedov, meanwhile, has deleted his original post featuring the actress in underwear, but has stepped up his campaign for someone to be held responsible.

In a message in Russian to his more than 13 million Instagram followers, accompanied by an all-black picture, the undefeated MMA star said the staging of the play in Muslim-majority Dagestan was a “direct insult.”

“Why is the leadership in Dagestan keeping quiet, where are the deputies of the people’s assembly, where are the heads of the regions, where are the deputy minister and ministers themselves?” the 30-year-old wrote.

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“What, you are all keeping quiet, they called this performance ‘Hunting for Men’. It’s a direct insult to us… Be men, at least someone speak out.”

“My advice to the leadership of Dagestan, organize an investigation, and the organizers receive punishment according to the law and apologize to the people, and in future for this never to be repeated, that events of this type are controlled at the level of the ministers and leaders of the Republic.”

He ended with a warning, should the local leadership not heed his advice.         

“I want to address the government of Dagestan, if you think that everything will end in posts on social media, you are wrong. Take action in time,” he wrote, adding a hashtag translating as “Dagestan wake up.”

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The row has also come to the attention of the Kremlin, with President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, saying: “Russia is a multinational country, and the specifics of its people cannot be ignored.”

Nurmagomedov has been propelled to global fame beyond the world of MMA since he defeated Irish megastar Conor McGregor in Las Vegas in October.

He has millions of fans around the world, and has in recent months toured far and wide, meeting some prominent figures in Muslim countries.

He has previously spoken out against the hosting of rap concerts in Dagestan, as well as calling for the closure of nightclubs in the region, calling them a “dirty business.”

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When asked at an event in Saudi Arabia last year about female MMA fighters, he said: “For females, I have very good advice, be fighters at home. 

“And one more advice, all the time, finish your husband, smash him really bad."