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Russian Americans react to Russian invasion in Ukraine

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

Russians and Ukrainians living in the U.S. are watching events unfold with a mix of worry and inevitability. For Russians in particular, they see a divide between young and old. WSHU's Charles Lane reports from the Russian enclave of Brighton Beach, N.Y.

CHARLES LANE, BYLINE: Russians and Ukrainians started moving here to Brighton Beach starting in the 1970s. It's a tight-knit neighborhood that faces the chilly winds coming off the Atlantic Ocean. Most of the shops here are clustered underneath the elevated subway tracks. Diana Konsevych is Ukrainian. She's waiting for a train to go to work.

DIANA KONSEVYCH: I kind of couldn't go to sleep because my friend texted me that the war has started and that they're scared, like, basically, of dying.

LANE: Konsevych is 21, and she says Russians aren't given a choice about what to think about the invasion.

KONSEVYCH: Based on what I've seen, Russian TV is very brainwash-y (ph) a little bit. So they might think that Ukraine is kind of like a different country from what it is, actually.

LANE: However, what Konsevych dismisses as propaganda is what older Russians here say is official media. Aleksander Fischer is in his 60s. He laughs off social media as a place where people can say anything, whether it's true or not.

ALEKSANDER FISCHER: Facebook or something, they don't allow to say anything.

LANE: He says war in Ukraine is terrible but that it was provoked by President Biden, whom he calls Brandon.

FISCHER: He wanted it desperately. Now his rating will be a little bit higher.

LANE: And you mean Biden.

FISCHER: Biden. Yes. Right. You called him Bidon.

LANE: You called him what?

FISCHER: Bidon.

LANE: Bidon, according to Fischer, is a Russian insult for blowhard. Daria Martyshina says the difference between young and old people here is more about the type of media they consume.

DARIA MARTYSHINA: Russia right now - they don't support any news that are against Putin policy.

LANE: Martyshina is 23. She says younger Russians in Brighton Beach consume more online news that isn't financed by the Russian government.

MARTYSHINA: So YouTubers who are making this news, they are supported by regular people from Russia, not from the government.

LANE: Another divide, according to Martyshina, is that younger Russians in the U.S. have had access to more opportunities not controlled by the Russian government. She says people who grew up under the old USSR are more accustomed to trusting the government and more supportive of Putin. For NPR News, I'm Charles Lane in Brighton Beach. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, a National Murrow, and he was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists.