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3 Jun, 2020 11:29

Nyet entry! RT speaks to 'RUSSIAN MAFIA' who defended own restaurant against looters during San Diego riots

Nyet entry! RT speaks to 'RUSSIAN MAFIA' who defended own restaurant against looters during San Diego riots

A restaurant in San Diego, California, gained national fame in Russia after a viral photo showed how 'Russian mafia' defended the premises during recent riots. RT caught up with the owner to discuss organized crime.

The 'Pushkin' restaurant and bar doesn't look like a seedy place where gangsters might gather to hang out and plot nefarious deeds. However, "Russian mafia in full force" could be seen in front of the building, defending it from looters. At least that was the claim accompanying a photo of several surly men in front of the restaurant, which made waves on Russian social media this week.

The inside joke shared by the Russian community in San Diego was widely appreciated in Russia itself. Especially since the 'mafiosos' – the owner of 'Pushkin' and his friends – took their guard duty with a signature Russian sense of humor. If you already have wooly ushanka hats for themed parties, why not use them to complete the image of no-nonsense Russian thugs?

Ike Gazaryan, the proud owner of Pushkin for the past five years, told RT that he called in some friendly muscle after mass looting occurred in the La Mesa neighborhood, which is located not far from his small business.

He pointed out that while some big corporations could deal with premises in San Diego being burned to the ground, for someone like him, losing his place of business right after two months of Covid-19 lockdown could well mean bankruptcy.

"It's not like they are burning [only] large corporations or banks. They are breaking into small businesses, like small jewelry shops," he said. "And these people probably already have no money after two months of coronavirus. People could lose all their savings and become homeless." 

So he and his friends placed the restaurant under protection, more to discourage would-be looters than to actually fight with them. Inside, they had a couple of shotguns clearly visible through the windows, but nobody was carrying firearms outside. Gazaryan said they agreed they would only open fire if somebody broke in and threatened their lives.

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The restaurateur said he sympathized with the anger over the killing of George Floyd in police custody, which has sparked nationwide protests in the US last week.

"It pains me to see young black lives being lost to something stupid like this. It could have been avoided. And the fact that people are looting doesn't help the cause," the businessman said.

So far, their show of force has been more than enough to keep things quiet. On one occasion, a small group of people seemed to be casing the restaurant and a neighboring business with a view to vandalizing the premises, but the 'Russian mafia' scared those people away. And many passing protesters have actually cheered and high-fived the guards.

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