Anti-Russian sentiment on the rise in the US Anti-Russian sentiment on the rise in the US

Anti-Russian sentiment on the rise in the US

    NHK World
    Senior Correspondent, NHK Los Angels Bureau Chief 
    Russians living abroad say they have become targets for harassment since the invasion of Ukraine. In the United States, even people of Russian descent or who simply have perceived connections to the country are dealing with threats.

    Ike Gazaryan, owner of Pushkin Russian Restaurant in San Diego, California, has recorded some of the phone calls he has received.

    "You disgusting Russian pigs," screams one caller.

    "It's a real hatred," says Gazaryan. "I didn't think people would act this way."

    The abuse is online, too. He found disturbing comments posted on their Facebook page.

    Gazaryan is Armenian by birth but emigrated to the United States as a child and is now an American citizen.

    His restaurant serves high-end cuisines from across eastern Europe including Ukraine.

    "In the very first week of the invasion, half of our reservations were canceled," says Gazaryan.

    "The same thing happened during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Afghan and Iraqi restaurants went out of business. It's basically the same thing that's happening to us."

    Gazaryan says he has frequently been advised to change the name of the restaurant, but has decided not to. Because, he says, many Russians are against the war.

    The owner of Pushkin Russian Restaurant, Ike Gazaryan, started to receive harassing phone calls from angry people since Russia began the invasion.

    Student safety fears

    Staff at some educational institutions are expressing concern about the safety of their students.

    Over three dozen Russians study at the University of California, Berkeley.

    Some say they have felt alienated from their classmates and from American society since the invasion.

    More than three dozen students from Russia study at the University of California, Berkeley.

    The university's International Office Director, Ivor Emmanuel, has written to the Russian students.

    "Included in the message was the need for them to be careful and vigilant when they are on the streets," he says. "And we also made available to them resources they can turn to if they find themselves facing this problem."

    An official at the University of California, Berkeley, Ivor Emmanuel sent letters to Russian students to be vigilant when they are on the streets.

    The university sits just outside California's 15th congressional district, an area represented in Congress by Eric Swalwell, who has taken a markedly different stance.

    He told CNN in February that, "kicking every Russian student out of the United States should be on the table."

    "Visceral reaction"

    James A. Paretti Jr., is a lawyer advising company managers on harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

    He says people who define anything related to Russia as bad are just reacting viscerally.

    Lawyer James A. Paretti Jr. points out that people attacking other groups of people tend to reinforce their opinion with biased information on social media.

    And he says social media is reinforcing the problem by feeding people only information that supports what they already believe.

    "It's sort of a confirmation bias," he says. "It's definitely a problem far bigger than what we've been dealing with in the past."