It was the Russians.
In an election where Russian spies allegedly hacked Hillary Clinton’s e-mails and president-elect Donald Trump’s admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin was a central theme, the borough’s slavs proved Southern Brooklyn is Trump Country. The Donald carried the neighborhoods of Sheepshead Bay, Gravesend, Midwood, Brighton Beach, and Manhattan Beach — even as Clinton gobbled up the borough-wide vote.
And the nation’s soon-to-be 45th president can thank immigrants from The Great Bear, who supported him for his friendly relationship with Putin, his allegiance to Israel, and his promise to grow the economy, according to one area voter who is both Russian and Jewish.
“As I know many Russian-speaking Americans over 60, they were pro-Trump,” said Alexander Sirotin, a Brighton Beacher who pulled the lever for the real-estate mogul on Tuesday with some reservations. “I think because they liked some of Trump’s promises. Promises to not send any soldiers abroad, to try to talk with Putin, something like that. I feel hope for Israel, for Jewish people, because I am Jewish and I hope we are united. I cannot say that I am happy, but I hope that now there will be change, and I hope that change will be for better not for worse.”
Others were more glowing in their reactions.
“I’m over the moon that Trump won,” said Bensonhurster Rebecca Zlobinskaya, who is also Russian. “He has the business experience to change all our lives for the better. It’s a beautiful thing his winning, it really is.”
Russians just tend more conservative, and Trump’s status as an entrepreneur and political outsider was all those electors were talking about, according to an area politico who supported Hillary.
“The Russian community overwhelmingly went for Trump. I heard ‘Israel,’ I heard ‘businessman,’ I heard ‘outsider,’ and ‘not part of the political establishment,’ ” said Ari Kagan, a Democratic district leader in the 45th Assembly District, where Trump got 16,400 votes to Clinton’s 10,600. “I know that the majority of people in Brighton Beach supported Trump, it was not a surprise.”
The cultural conservative bent and a penchant for domineering political figures had Russians eating out of Trump’s hands, a critic said.
“A lot of people in my community supported him because they’re used to being brainwashed by Putin before they came here,” said Vira Andrukh, who hails from the Ukraine and said she was the only person among her friends and family who voted for Clinton.
Russians came to the area en masse starting in the 1980s and ’90s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, and the borough’s Russian community has a sizable number of ex-Soviet seniors and newly arrived immigrants — two groups who rely on the very social services The Donald has pledged to reign in, a local social worker said.
“The Russian community, I think they’re vulnerable,” said Pat Singer, who runs the Brighton Neighborhood Association. “When I hear that my Russian neighbors are voting for Trump, who has said ‘immigrants out’ — and he doesn’t like government programs — do they know what they are doing?”
Coounty-wide, Clinton got a total 595,086 votes to Trump’s 133,653.