In NYC’s Russian en­claves, a big ‘nyet’ to hack­ing talk

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

NEW YORK: Clutch­ing a cob­bler’s tool, Ro­man Ga­dayev de­fi­antly lashed out against ac­cu­sa­tions that Rus­sia med­dled in the US elec­tion to sway the vote to Don­ald Trump. “Sim­ply im­pos­si­ble,” said the Kaza­khstan na­tive who runs a shoe re­pair shop near the Brighton Beach board­walk. “This is some­thing that only un­e­d­u­cated peo­ple can buy into.”

Most Russian-speak­ing ex­pa­tri­ates in­ter­viewed by The As­so­ci­ated Press this past week in Brook­lyn’s heav­ily ex-Soviet en­claves shrugged off a CIA as­sess­ment that Rus­sia hacked the Demo­cratic Party and Hil­lary Clin­ton’s cam­paign boss to help Trump, por­tray­ing it as noth­ing more than po­lit­i­cal sour grapes. “Rus­sia has noth­ing to do with this,” Lud­mila Bon­dar, a re­tired credit an­a­lyst who moved to Amer­ica from Skvyra, Ukraine, 26 years ago, said in Russian. “Peo­ple are the ones who have elected Trump.”

Brighton Beach and ad­ja­cent Sheepshead Bay, which have be­come home to tens of thou­sands of Rus­sianspeak­ing im­mi­grants, are co­in­ci­den­tally where Trump’s fa­ther based a big part of his apart­ment-com­plex em­pire. These en­claves along the At­lantic Ocean not far from the rides of Coney Is­land are also among the few corners of Trump coun­try in over­whelm­ingly Demo­cratic New York City. While the city over­all went nearly 79 per­cent for Clin­ton in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, most precincts in the two neigh­bor­hoods voted “za Trampa,” or for Trump, some as high as 80 per­cent.

Drawn to prom­ises

First-gen­er­a­tion mi­grants told the AP they were gen­er­ally drawn to the Repub­li­can can­di­date’s prom­ises to re­duce taxes and cre­ate more jobs. And many felt that US-Russian re­la­tions were likely to im­prove dur­ing a Trump pres­i­dency.

Tout­ing Trump’s elec­toral triumph as “a huge vic­tory for reg­u­lar peo­ple,” Odessa, Ukraine, trans­plant Yuriy Taras scoffed at the hack­ing al­le­ga­tions and that Russian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin was per­son­ally be­hind it. “I be­lieve Rus­sia couldn’t ex­ert any in­flu­ence on the elec­tions in Amer­ica,” Taras said in Russian, strolling the board­walk with his wife, who was cov­ered from head to toe in fur. “Maybe Rus­sia wanted to, but in my opin­ion, Putin main­tains the po­si­tion that he doesn’t need war. He just needs oth­ers to stop both­er­ing him.”

Taras said he con­sid­ers Trump’s nom­i­na­tion of Exxon Mo­bil CEO Rex Tiller­son, “a per­son who knows both Putin and Rus­sia,” as sec­re­tary of state a sign that the re­la­tions be­tween Washington and Moscow will be on the mend. “If Trump does what he promised to, and Putin says all the time that he wants peace with Amer­ica, then I think that en­mity be­tween Rus­sia and the United States will stop,” Taras added.

CIA Di­rec­tor John Bren­nan has said the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity is in agree­ment that Rus­sia tried to in­ter­fere in the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, though there’s no ev­i­dence Moscow suc­ceeded in help­ing Trump win. Demo­cratic Pres­i­dent Barack Obama has or­dered a full re­view of any Russian in­volve­ment.

Ye­fim Kacher, a hair salon owner from Odessa who said he voted for Trump be­cause of his prom­ise to slash taxes, was among the few who said there ap­pears to be suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence that Rus­sia tried to sway the US elec­tion out­come.

Al­though Kacher is crit­i­cal of Putin’s “very ag­gres­sive” for­eign pol­icy, he hopes that the US-Russian ties will get bet­ter be­cause “one shouldn’t ar­gue with Amer­ica. It’s a big nu­clear power and a com­pro­mise should ex­ist.” “Re­la­tions will im­prove thanks to com­mon sense be­cause no one wants to es­ca­late the con­fronta­tion with Rus­sia,” he said in Russian.

Ro­man Groys­man, a 34-year-old mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant whose fam­ily em­i­grated to the US from Ukraine, says he sees hack­ing merely as a mod­ern tool de­ployed by for­eign coun­tries against each other. “It’s to be ex­pected. We did the same to other coun­tries. Why wouldn’t they try to do it to us?” he said. “It’s all fair in love and war.”

BROOK­LYN: In this Dec 16, 2016 photo, women choose stock­ings for sale in a Brighton Beach cloth­ing store.

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