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They Hate Putin. They Love Trump. And they Live in Brooklyn.

Updated: Dec 3, 2018

Article / I report on Soviet-born immigrants in Brooklyn who support Trump but hate the man with whom he’s increasingly linked: Vladimir Putin.

On a Wednesday evening in mid-June, a crowd comprised predominantly of Soviet-born immigrants to the U.S. gathered at Encore Restaurant, a gaudy supper club in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, for a fundraiser honoring Malka Shahar, a 52-year-old Russian émigré running as a Republican candidate to represent South Brooklyn’s District 47 in the New York State Assembly. Shahar took the stage, dotted with disco lights and shrouded in fog machine smoke, and put her hand over her heart. A hundred guests followed suit, and a pre-teen wearing plastic jelly sandals belted out the “Star Spangled Banner.” When the song ended, the guests sat, and John Abi-Habib, former vice-chairman of the Kings County Republican Party, gave opening remarks.

“We have a woman of distinction who is going to take Brooklyn by storm!” he said. “Today is about the future of the people who represent this beautiful party.”

For three hours, the guests discussed political and cultural events over trays of elaborately arranged Russian food, and watched performances by a violinist, a poet, a singer introduced as “the great and legendary Russian émigré Vladimir Mazenkov,” and several out-of-tune children. The festivities ended with Shahar on stage swaying gleefully next to a septuagenarian in a Trump T-shirt who sang Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” then threw his hands up and yelled, “Remember to vote for Malky! Remember to vote for Trump!”

Read the article in the New Republic.


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