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Almost half of Russians in US have experienced discrimination alongside ‘unfair’ portrayal of country in media – survey

Almost half of Russians in US have experienced discrimination alongside ‘unfair’ portrayal of country in media – survey
A study of Russian-Americans has made clear the shocking extent of Russophobia in the US, today. The news comes after the Kremlin warned that attacks on the country were defining this week’s American presidential election.

The report, published by the political lobby group Ru-PAC, found that more than 44 per cent of US-based Russians surveyed had faced discrimination on the basis of their nationality. 

Around one in four reported having felt they had to hide their background. The way Russia is portrayed in the media appeared to be a cause of this, with almost 64 per cent of those responding saying coverage was “unfair.”

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It’s estimated there are around three million Russian-Americans living in the US. A 2007 census revealed that more than 850,000 people in the country speak Russian as their primary language at home, although many may come from other former Soviet Republics.

Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told journalists in October that anti-Russian sentiment was a growing trend in America, saying that “competition in Russophobia has become a constant in all US electoral processes, regrettably. We are fully aware of this and can only express regret.”

Russian commentators and politicians have expressed concern at how Russians have frequently been the target of jokes and criticism in the American media. In 2018, popular talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live ran a segment in which stereotyped Soviet citizens were “taught to smile” ahead of the World Cup that was to be hosted in Russia. Many pointed out that similar targeting of other nationalities would be deemed unacceptable.

In an interview with Canadian media, a Russian-speaking international-development consultant in Washington DC summed up her experiences, saying, “If you’re a Russian-speaking blonde woman, you are supposed to play tennis and you are a spy.” She added that, “They are probably joking, but I get that – All. The. Time.”

While there is sometimes a narrative that Russians in the US are low-skilled economic migrants, the Ru-PAC report found that, on average, Russian-Americans are highly qualified. Almost half of those surveyed reported that they held an advanced qualification such as a Master’s degree or PhD.

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