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Khabib calls out Russian media’s anti-Dagestan reporting: ‘We also have feelings’

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The former UFC fighter questioned Russian media’s willingness to blame Dagestanis for instances of crime and violence.

Victorious UFC fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov welcomed in Dagestan Photo by Said Tsarnayev\TASS via Getty Images

Khabib Nurmagomedov has raised concerns about Russian media’s supposedly hostile approach of reporting on instances of crime involving Dagestani natives.

According to the former UFC champion, the violent attack on the Moscow Metro was a clear example of how the media places emphasis on the attackers being from Dagestan. “Someone beats someone up – everywhere they write Dagestanis,” Nurmagomedov told members of the media ahead of an event held by his Eagles FC promotion in Socho last weekend.

Nurmagomedov was referring to an incident where Russian citizen Roman Kovalev was awarded a medal for bravery by the Russian government after defending a woman being harassed by a group of men on the Moscow subway. The group responded by attacking Kovalev, who was hospitalized with significant injuries.

Footage of the attack went viral on social media and became the subject of a nationwide debate in Russia. However, according to Nurmagomedov, the fact that the assailants were from Dagestan was not particularly relevant.

“We also have feelings – there are 3.5 million Dagestanis, if not 4 million of us.” Nurmagomedov continued. “I think it’s wrong – when one person does the wrong thing – to write in all the media ‘Dagestanis, Dagestanis’. These people who do bad things – there are 15-20 of them, well 30, well, let’s round it up to 100. But there are at least 3.5 million Dagestanis. There are intelligentsia, there are scientists, athletes, doctors.

“There are people who very worthily represent not only Dagestan, but all of Russia. But as soon as one sick person does something bad, all the media, including you, throw it out there that Dagestanis did this and that.”

Nurmagomedov also claimed that Russia’s mainstream media was hypocritical in its approach to reporting the news, pointing to instances of crime where emphasis was not placed on the ethnicity of the assailants.

“And somewhere, for example, in Perm or Kazan, a person goes out and shoots an entire school – then no one writes anything [about his ethnicity].”

Nurmagomedov’s argument is not without merit. Racism in Russia has traditionally included hostility towards ethnicities from the Caucasus, Central Asia, as well as Crimean Tatars and Russia’s Jewish community.