Local News


Russian Americans in Las Vegas face backlash over war on Ukraine

Posted at 6:47 PM, Mar 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 22:16:48-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has triggered a backlash on the Russian American community in Las Vegas.

While millions of Ukrainians seek safety, there is trouble brewing for Russian Americans right here in the valley.

Yelena Brezhneva is the founder and president of the Las Vegas Russian American Chamber of Commerce.

"We are just trying to unite local people and make it a platform to share their ideas, their businesses and especially people who are moving into this wonderful city," Brezhneva said. "We are not affiliated with the Russian government. We are not local spies."

Since the war on Ukraine began, Brezhneva says she has been harassed and threatened on social media for not posting in support of Ukrainian people.

Brezhneva says she chooses not to comment on the ongoing war.

"We are being targeted and they are forgetting that we are Americans, too," Brezhneva said.

Brezhneva has lived in Vegas for more than 25 years. Her three kids are Vegas born and she loves the community deeply.

The conflict in Ukraine is also having a direct impact on Brezhneva's pockets. Prior to the war, she worked as an exporter for a Russian vodka.

"Putin doesn't get that money, so the owner is suffering. Now I'm laid off, we can't sell the product, we can't even talk about the product," Brezhneva said.

While local business like Evel Pie downtown and Lee's Discount Liquor are standing up to Russia by not supporting their product, Brezhneva wonders where the support is for Russian Americans living in the valley.

"We matter, too. We do not support violence. We still deserve respect; we are Americans," Brezhneva said.