14:53 GMT27 May 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – People from Russia and other former Soviet Union states have been facing discrimination from landlords, friends and employers in Washington D.C. amid fears that these people might be related to Russian intelligence, Politico reported.

    According to the media outlet, a sentiment which has emerged in the wake of Maria Butina’s arrest in the United States

    Though US law bans discrimination against job-seekers on the basis of their national origin, members of the Russian diaspora in the US capital have been facing rejections when applying for jobs, according to the Politico magazine’s article published on Monday.

    The magazine added, citing a cybersecurity firm executive, that companies doing sensitive work for the US government had been instructed to avoid hiring people from Russia, China and Iran, or in other words, countries designated by the US State Department as Washington’s adversaries.

    READ MORE: Butina's Case Helped to Collect Info on Rights Abuses of Russians in US Jails

    Notably, Dmitry Sivaev, an urban development specialist at the World Bank, told the outlet that his former boss had asked him not to disclose his nationality to his colleagues.

    Another Russian national, Natalia, told Politico that she had faced suspicions from her landlady who had expressed concerns that the woman went by the name Natasha, a common diminutive form of Natalia, which is also the name of a Russian spy in the US cartoon Rocky and Bullwinkle. The landlady could have been suggesting that Natasha was some kind of a spy nickname for her tenant, according to the outlet.

    READ MORE: Moscow Demands US to Close Politically Motivated Case Against Butina

    Other members of the Russian community, who have spoken to Politico, cited their concerns about the emerging reluctance of their US friends, especially those close to the US government, to meet with them. The outlet noted that US nationals in Washington D.C. might face career consequences over their friendship with Russians.

    Members of the Russian diaspora have been facing skepticism in the wake of Butina’s arrest even in their private lives. For example, Russian women are often asked if they are spies by US men on social media and dating applications.

    Nick, a Russian-born US national, told Politico he had even faced suspected phishing attempts on Tinder and LinkedIn. Particularly, Nick suggested that a woman targeted him on the dating platform for intelligence-gathering purposes.

    READ MORE: Russian Official on Butina's Detention: All Signs of Cruel, Inhuman Treatment

    Butina, a recent student and a highly visible political activist, was arrested in Washington, D.C. in mid-July for acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government. She has denied the charges. Butina, who faces up to 15 years in jail, is currently being held in a prison in the US city of Alexandria, Virginia.

    Russia has strongly criticized the US government for detaining Butina, and has characterized the charges against her as "clearly groundless." The Russian Foreign Ministry has called Butina's ongoing detention unacceptable.


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