WEST HOLLYWOOD (CBSA) – Southern California is home to a large Russian community, although many people may not realize that West Hollywood claims more Russian speakers than any American city outside of New York.
In the 1970s, the city offered a fresh start for Jews fleeing the former Soviet Union from religious oppression after World War II.
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“I grew up here. I know every corner,” restaurant owner Oleg Atroshenko said.
Atroshenko owns Truck-tear, a Russian restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard. His family moved here when he was a child.
“Before it was… like, okay, all the stores were in Russian and the restaurants were here,” he said.
All over this small town, Russian is written on the walls and spoken in the shops, so what’s happening in Ukraine is on the hearts of many.
“It’s hard to see, really. I hope cool heads prevail in the end,” said Dmitriy Shukan, a Ukrainian national.
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According to a documentary produced by the city of West Hollywood a few years ago, its population was 20% Soviet immigrants when it was founded in 1984.
“West Hollywood has become a magnet for those fleeing the Soviet Union,” said Zev Yaroslavsky.
Yaroslavsky teaches history at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“You had the very liberal progressive gay and lesbian community in WeHo. Then you had the Russian community, but over time they became partners and it’s a great story they have in West Hollywood,” he told CBSLA.
Although many members of this community have spent the past few days watching over loved ones in Ukraine, they also hope for peace and are grateful to have found a new country to live in.
“Everyone wants the same thing, something on the dining table, kids to grow up in and good weather. That’s it,” Shukan said.
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Although West Hollywood started out with a much larger population of people from the former Soviet Union, those numbers have dwindled over the years as residents have dispersed to the Valley and other locations, but it There is still a very large Russian community in Los Angeles County with connections. to this part of the world.