Aftermath of attack in Derbent, Russia
Aftermath of attack in Derbent, RussiaREUTERS

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the exiled former Chief Rabbi of Moscow, blamed the Russian government for the deadly attack on a church and two synagogues in Russia’s southern republic of Dagestan yesterday (Sunday).

“The Russian authorities during the last years have used the law enforcement authorities to repress any kind of opposition to the Kremlin, opposition to the war and any movements like the LGBT movement which was declared as extremist. People are sent to prison for criticizing the war,” Rabbi Goldschimdt said in an interview with Reuters in Berlin Monday.

“So instead of using law enforcement and the interior ministry and FSB to provide security for Russian citizens, it’s being used to eradicate any opposition to the regime. And here we see the results, that such terrorists like ISIS are able to again and again mount successful attacks against houses of worship, against cultural events,” he added.

Rabbi Goldschmidt fled Russia in 2022 following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

20 people were murdered in the Dagestan attack, including at least 15 policemen. Authorities said the terrorists opened fire on a church, two synagogues and a police post in two cities in the region.

Dagestan's Interior Ministry said a group of armed men shot at a synagogue and a church in the city of Derbent, located on the Caspian Sea. Both the church and the synagogue caught fire, according to state media.

Almost simultaneously, reports appeared about an attack on a church and a traffic police post in the Dagestan capital, Makhachkala.

The authorities announced a counter-terrorist operation in the region. The Anti-Terrorist Committee said five terrorists were eliminated.

ISIS, which has a presence in the region, is believed to be the most likely culprit for the attack.