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Russian Americans in Las Vegas face hate speech amid war in Ukraine

Published: Mar. 15, 2022 at 11:24 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to hateful messages and discrimination against Russian American’s, according to the president of the Las Vegas Russian Chamber of Commerce.

Yelena Brezhneva has received messages on Facebook over the last few weeks. One wrote in part, ‘you’re a Russian piece of [expletive] that doesn’t deserve to be in this country’.

“Are we supposed to have real hate crime for people to actually start talking about it? Or we can have the conversation,” President of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce Yelena Brezhneva said.

Brezhneva was born in Russia and is also part Ukrainian. However, she has lived in Las Vegas for 25 years and raised a family in the valley.

“We have nothing to do with the government. We are a company that is just supporting local businesses”, Brezhneva said.

She said that she’s heard from many other Russian Americans that have been discriminated against for several weeks.

“It’s unfair we have to be targeted and pay the price for something we have nothing to do with,” Brezhneva said.

Brezhneva said it’s a financial price too, and the sanctions on Russia are hurting mom and pop shops here in the United States.

FOX5 visited an Eastern European Market in the southwest valley. The owner said about 20 to 30% of their product is Russian or Ukrainian. However, they have not received their regular shipments and its unclear if they will again. Instead, shelves are filled with other European or American product, which can be more expensive for the stores and in return the price at checkout.

“Is strawberry jam not good anymore because it comes from Russia? Is Putin making money on selling jam, selling vodka?” Brezhneva said questioning the wide-ranging sanctions.

Brezhneva said she’s even anxious about the next Russian chamber of commerce meeting. She wonders if people will feel comfortable enough to show up.