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Dagestan anti-draft protest leaders call on Khabib to support their cause

Anti-mobilization protesters in Dagestan are asking the former UFC champion and national hero to support their cause.

TOPSHOT-WRESTLING-RUS-SPORT-UFC Photo credit should read VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP via Getty Images

As hundreds of people in the republic of Dagestan demonstrate against the “partial mobilization” for Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, protesters are calling on Khabib Nurmagomedov to support their cause.

The appeal took place during an Instagram Live broadcast hosted by Sheikh Abdullah Kosteksky, who held a discussion with several protest leaders in Dagestan, one of whom called on Nurmagomedov to be more like Muhammad Ali during the Vietnam war.

“Khabib, tell me where you stand as a man, as a Muslim,” one of the protest leaders, known as Abu Umar, said.

Abu Umar also called on other Dagestani athletes such as Zabit Magomedsharipov to speak out. Several did voice their support for the protests, including Vagab Vagabov, Magomed Mustafaev, and UFC fighter Muhammad Mokaev. Others such as former AMC Fight Nights champion Marif Piraev reportedly fled Russia after receiving their draft notice to join the war.

As for Nurmagomedov, the former UFC champion’s social media accounts are filled with an endless stream of Dagestani fans appealing for his support. “Khabib, all these years you have been supported by the people of Dagestan…at least once stand up for the people. Be like Muhammad Ali.,” read one of the comments.

Dagestan, one of the most impoverished republics in Russia, has seen a death toll in the Kremlin’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine than any other republic in Russia. According to an analysis by the BBC’s Russian service, at least 301 soldiers from Dagestan have died, which is ten times higher than the toll in Moscow. However, it should be noted that the true death toll in Dagestan is likely far higher.

As a result, hundreds of protestors gathered on Sunday, Sep 25 to protest Moscow’s call-up, eventually morphing into a violent outbreak against authorities. Videos showed demonstrators confronting law enforcement and brawling with officials. In one video, a security officer can be seen fleeing from a group of protesters as they attempt to trip him up.

More than 100 demonstrators were arrested Sunday, with at least 20 more detained the following day.