Amid Ukraine war, all things Russia met with scorn, backlash

Russian community groups and Russia-related businesses abroad say they have faced threats amid Moscow’s deadly invasion.

By Published On 18 Mar 2022

Ike Gazaryan says it began with phone calls. Then came the bad online reviews, the cancelled reservations, and the threatening notes.

“Some of these phone calls are pretty disturbing,” said Gazaryan, owner of Pushkin Russian Restaurant in San Diego, California. “They’re yelling, saying, ‘You’re f***king Russian pigs, I hope you die.’”

Gazaryan, who is Armenian, told Al Jazeera that most of his employees are Ukrainian, and the restaurant has hung up Ukrainian flags and donated money in support of Ukraine amid Russia’s devastating military offensive there.

But that has not stopped some members of the public from targeting his restaurant in the weeks since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an all-out invasion of the country. “Russia is the new boogie man,” Gazaryan said in a phone interview this week.

“So anything I guess that has the word ‘Russian’ is going to be a red flag for everybody.”

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