Russian Nightclub Fined for Barring 'Caucasian'

A Tel Aviv club was ordered on Sunday to pay compensation to a man it refused to admit because of his ethnic appearance. Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court Judge Yair Dlugin ordered Fashion Bar to pay Daniel Kaufman NIS 15,000 plus attorney fees and court costs.

In his ruling, Dlugin wrote that the club had shown "clear discrimination based on country of origin, the color of a person's skin and his external appearance."

In March 2006 Kaufman, a 29-year-old criminology student, came to the club with a number of friends. When they reached the entrance the bouncer told him, "Everyone can go in except you." When the bouncer was asked why, she replied: "I don't know you, so you can't go in."

Kaufman claimed in his lawsuit that the owners of the club, which holds parties for Israelis of Russian origin, turned him away because they thought from his appearance that he was from the Caucasus or from Georgia - minorities who are considered "eastern" and inferior by Russians.

Fashion Bar denied the allegation, but in a conversation with the bouncer that Kaufman recorded some time after the incident, she admitted that she had been instructed not to allow people from the Caucasus into the club. Kaufman also showed that the club's Internet site it notes that it has a strict "face-test" policy.

Dlogin noted that he could have ordered the club to pay Kaufman NIS 50,000 in compensation but did not because it seemed that Kaufman had gone to the club specifically because he knew he would be refused entry and could then sue.

"The Russian community should know that the court protects the rights of the one who is right, not the one who is rich or stronger - that's the Russian mentality," Kaufman said after the verdict was issued. Kaufman denied that he had planned in advance to sue the club.