Russians run out of Madrid as Spaniards unleash Ukraine war backlash

Calgary: Russian Orthodox Church is vandalised with red paint

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Las noches de Moscú, a Russian restaurant in Madrid, was established to “remember a land that welcomed” the current manager’s grandfather-in-law as one of the “children of the war”. It survived crises in 2008, 2013 and, most recently as a result of Covid lockdowns last year. Now, Nouredinne is questioning whether his restaurant will survive a wave of anti-Russian sentiment in Spain amid the Russia-Ukraine war.

The establishment at times finds itself empty when it once would have been bustling, according to a report in 20 Minutes.

Nouredinne claims footfall is down by around 50 percent.

He said: “We noticed it especially at the weekend. The workload has plummeted.”

The manager is sure the invasion of Ukraine is the cause, and not, say, the increasing cost of living.

He owns a bar down the road from his restaurant which has nothing to do with Russia and has not experienced the same drop in business.

The messages received by himself and on the establishment’s review pages deal with any remaining doubt over the cause of decreasing workload.

Employees have been told over the phone – by people calling on hidden numbers – “we are going to rape you” and “you are going to pay for everything you are doing in Ukraine”.

In a shameful irony that has been witnessed in other attacks on Russian people – in no way connected to the invasion of Ukraine – in other parts of the West, many of those receiving the calls are, in fact, Ukrainian.

READ MORE: Backlash against Putin’s war as school targeted in Europe

Nouredinne said: “The people who are answering these calls, the workers of the establishment, are Ukrainian.

“In fact, the father of one of them has gone to fight as a volunteer. They are the ones who are bearing the brunt of these threats.”

Further messages have been posted on review pages, perhaps in a bid to deter other Spaniards from visiting the restaurant.

The slurs are in no way isolated.

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Oksana, owner of the restaurant Souvenir in Barcelona, did not want to describe the exact content of the calls she has been receiving but explained: “We are mainly receiving insults on the phone. Quite a lot. We are also receiving insults on the Internet.

“On some apps we have disabled comments because it was horrible.”

She added that restaurant owners were not along in receiving abuse: “Academies that teach the language, Russian-speaking kindergartens… are very much affected.”

Oksana, along with Nouredinne, did, however, stress that many in Spain – and on social media – were coming to their defence, insisting it was silly to tar all Russians under the same brush.

But their experiences have been suffered elsewhere, including in Germany, where a school for Russian children was recently vandalised for that very fact, and in Canada, where the door of a Russian Orthodox Church – attended by congregants with friends and relatives in Ukraine who are “worried” by ongoing events – was covered in red paint after an intruder failed to gain entry.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

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