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From what is shown and what has been told by Red, Dmitri is often seen as a soft, quiet yet good-natured man. Unlike Red, who has a flare and out-spoken personality, Dmitri appears weak and a bit of a pushover, one of the major reasons Red has such a strained relationship with him. When she found out Dmitri closed the restaurant, her views on her husband was described as a pillow, "soft, lumpy and always lying behind my back" ("Bed Bugs and Beyond").
Dmitri, like Red, lived in a Soviet-era city as a Russian Guard of a factory, from which Red worked as a regular Factory worker. Red grew bored of their relationship and complained to her friend Nadezhda that he was "a hamster in jackboots" ("The Tightening"). Later, Red blew off a date with Dmitri to go to a secret party with Nadezhda, the attendees of which were university students who rebelled against repressive Soviet society by copying American clothing and dance moves. Dmitri made a last-ditch attempt to win Red back by proposing they move to the United States together - as the government was allowing Jewish individuals to leave the country, they could pay an agency to "discover" long-lost Jewish relatives and thus obtain visas. Though initially reluctant to marry Dmitri in order to emigrate, Red agreed.
Years later, having settled in the US and remained married, Red and Dmitri owned Dmitri's Russian Market in Astoria, Queens. Dmitri befriended some members of the Russian mob who frequented their business. Red, on the other hand, struggled to befriend their wives. She once went out on an organised walk with the ladies and tried to fit in to their group, but the wives patronized her and refused to laugh at her jokes. After discovering that they had excluded her from their next walk, an upset Red confronted and punched the wife of the mob boss, Marina, in the chest, accidentally rupturing a breast implant. Red and Dmitri were forced to pay back a $60,000 debt to the mob boss, Ganya ("Tit Punch") which led to Dmitri being forced to undertake some extremely unpleasant jobs; for example, implied corpse storage at their business.
When Red went to jail after being caught, Dmitri spend most of his time running his restaurant, but after the incident, no customers were courageous enough to eat there. Eventually, Dmitri was forced to close the restaurant, much to the dismay of Red, who vigorously called him weak and spineless.