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Producer threatened after UFC champ Khabib Nurmagomedov criticizes staging of play in Dagestan

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The UFC champion called the play “filth” and threatened to take action if the Dagestani government does not hold people responsible for the “direct insult.”

UFC 229: Khabib v McGregor Press Conference Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

On Tuesday, Khabib Nurmagomedov posted a picture on his Instagram account of a woman in lingerie seducing a man on stage during a play. The UFC champion criticized the play as “filth” and demanded to know why it was being shown Dagestan. Nurmagomedov’s comments stoked outrage within his native republic and eventually led to the play’s producer being threatened on social media.

The play — titled Hunting for Men — is billed as an action comedy about a woman in search of new pleasures after her husband begins to lose interest in her. While none of the scenes featured nudity, one of the main characters does appear in lingerie during a portion of the play. This was enough for Nurmagomedov to label the display as “pornography” and demand an investigation into all those involved with the play.

“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?” Nurmagomedov stated. “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,” added Nurmagomedov, who later deleted the image of the woman in lingerie and replaced it with a black screen.

Shortly following Nurmagomedov’s decision to amplify his concerns to his 13.7 million Instagram followers, Ivan Zhidko, the producer of the play, issued an apology on social media.

“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 (h/t RT). “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 offence, but still…,”

“Different people have their 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.”

Despite the apology, Nurmagomedov, a devout Muslim, continues to campaign for someone to be held responsible. The UFC champion even issued a warning to the Dagestani government, should they choose to ignore his demands.

“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 that translated to “Dagestan wake up.”