Russian sushi chain apologizes for advert featuring black man after far-right group targets it for ‘promoting multiculturalism’

Russian sushi chain apologizes for advert featuring black man after far-right group targets it for ‘promoting multiculturalism’

A Japanese food-delivery chain in Russia has become an unlikely target of threats and of online harassment, its founder says, after nationalist activists took exception at ethnic diversity depicted in one of its advertisements.

In a statement issued over the weekend, the Moscow branch of Sushi Yobidoyobi said that the company "apologizes for hurting the feelings of the public with our photos" and said it had removed a promotional picture at the center of recent uproar. In the now-retracted advert, a young black man can be seen sharing a sushi roll with three women.

Konstantin Zimen, the group's co-founder, complained last week that an online campaign of intimidation had begun against him and his business shortly after its publication. According to him, a right-wing group called Male State, which advocates white nationalism and a patriarchal society, had directed its followers to "leave feedback" on his social media channels, and to place orders with the restaurant and refuse to pay for them.

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The wave of disruption, Zimen says, was because Yobidoyobi stands accused of "promoting multiculturalism" with the advert. “All this is very strange, considering that we did not even try to“ promote the agenda,” but simply made very standard visuals for social networks," he said, vowing not to back down. “Our food is for everyone. We are not going to give up our ideas and we call [on] everyone to be peaceful," he said, just days before the company's apparent u-turn. Protection from discrimination on the basis of race and nationality is guaranteed by the Russian constitution.

In July, an advert by popular organic retailer Vkusvill was retracted amid a backlash. The clip, promoted on social media, featured two women in a same-sex relationship discussing their vegan lifestyle along with their two children. Promotion of 'non-traditional relationships' to minors was banned under the terms of a law signed into force in 2013, and the advert is thought to have been the first featuring an openly gay couple.

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