Ike Gazaryan and his wife are the owners of Pushkin, a Russian restaurant in downtown.
Gazaryan shared that over the past few weeks, they’ve received several frightening phone calls – even death threats – for operating their business.
“People were calling and they were yelling at us,” Gazaryan said. “Talking about we killed their family and that there would be repercussions toward us. We’ve had people call and say they would bomb us.”
Gazaryan played some of those recorded messages out loud for NBC 7, in which they are called “disgusting Russian pigs.” He also says they have dealt with several canceled reservations and poor reviews left on platforms like Yelp.
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
Gazaryan is Armenian, grew up in Uzbekistan and has lived in Russia. He said that he and many others fully support Ukraine’s fight for freedom.
“We’re on the same side here,” he said.
He even has family living in Ukraine and several of his staff members are Ukrainian.
He fears other Russian-Americans are experiencing similar hate from strangers. He wants the community to remember that many who live in the U.S. today fled Russia in search of a better life.
“The reason why they moved here to the U.S. is to stay as far away from Russian politics as possible,” he said.
He also says that what he’s experiencing in terms of threats, pales in comparison to what people in Ukraine are facing each day.
He just hopes the community can also remember – we’re united as Americans.
“My message is for the people of United States to support the Ukrainians. Donate as much as you can. Help them out. And also make sure you don’t hurt the Russian population because they are with you on the same page.”