West Hollywood business that caters to Russian-speaking community faces threats, changes its name

Saturday, March 19, 2022
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- Daniel Lerman has operated the passport and foreign travel business in West Hollywood called Russian Universal Services for 25 years.

When Russia invaded Ukraine last month, Lerman's business became a target of harassment by some who are against the war, a war he too opposes. Lerman was born and raised in Ukraine.

"They think we are affiliated with Russian government, but this is not so," Lerman told ABC7. "We just help Russian speaking people to file documents, to do various documentation stuff. We help Ukrainians. We help Jewish people. We help Russian people. When I came to this country, there was no separation. We all speak Russian. We all came from the Soviet Union."

The threats include calls from strangers telling Lerman to shutdown his business and leave the United States. It got so bad, Lerman decided to change the name of his business. It's now called Dokument USA. the new sign arrives next week.

"Targeting people and businesses in general because they speak Russian. I speak Russian. I also speak Ukrainian. So, I think it's unbelievable. It's terrible," said Diana Gustafson, a customer at Dokument USA.

A large part of Daniel Lerman's business is processing travel visas to Russia which has stopped because of the invasion. Lerman says his customers are scared to travel.

It's a sad reality of the war that's happening thousands of miles away...that businesses across the country are feeling the effects. From New York City to San Francisco, where a business was asked to remove the word Russian from their advertising. And in San Diego, the Pushkin Russian restaurant has also received threats.
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