He's Jewish in every way, but on New Year's Eve, Alexei Shtukin (42) decided to dress up as Santa Clause "just for fun," and paid for his decision dearly.
He was set upon by a gang of youths at the Dome nightclub in Tel Aviv, and beaten in front of his family. Youths were heard shouting, "dead Christian."
Alexei and his wife had decided to head to the Dome night club in south Tel Aviv, in order to pick up their daughter, Dasha (14), who was celebrating the New Year.
"We went inside to look for her, and then someone yelled: 'Santa Clause.'"
Alexei was convinced that the shout was one of enthusiasm, but was proved bitterly wrong.
The costume, as he immediately found out, was like a red sheet placed in front of a bull, and drew the rage of revelers. It started with a kick to the head and the pulling off of his hat.
"I bent down to pick up the hat, and then a group jumped on me. All I wanted at that time was to take my daughter and wife and get out of there in peace," he said.
But the youths "kept coming after me and kicked me. I shouted to my wife and daughter: Get in the car fast. Dasha began to be hysterical. 'Leave us alone,' she shouted, but the youths gathered around the frightened family members, kicking Alexei, and yelling, "Dead Christian."
Bleeding and injured, Alexei managed to get in his car and tried to escape with his family. But it wasn't simple. The gang encircled the car. They kicked the vehicle, danced on it, and crumpled the car.
At a certain stage, Alexei's wife succeeded in moving the vehicle, and the three escaped from the area.
At the Ichilov hospital, tests found that the rioters broke Alexei's nose, and that he is suffered injuries throughout his body.
"My daughter is still in shock, and it seems we'll have to take her to a psychologist. I don't understand how people who celebrate the New Year get angry over a Santa Clause outfit. When we came to Israel, we thought, here there are no thugs in the street like in Russia. It seems we were wrong," said Alexei.