Couple accused of throwing dog poo at home of Russian neighbour

·2-min read

A couple who allegedly threw dog poo at their Russian neighbour and threatened him is now facing ethnic discrimination charges.

Over the past few weeks, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police has been investigating several incidents of harassment and intimidation directed at the Russian man.

Police said yard signs were defaced with political and anti-national messages, a bag of rice with a similar message was thrown onto his property and he was subject to coarse language and threats.

The messages condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin, and dog faeces were left in the yard, WPXI reported.

Vasily Potanin has been harassed by neighbours since Russia invaded Ukraine. Source: WPXI
Son of Russian billionaire Vasily Potanin has been harassed by neighbours since Russia invaded Ukraine. Source: WPXI

Police said an immediate neighbour and his family also reported being harassed almost daily since the end of February since Russia invaded Ukraine.

One of the victims of this abuse was identified as Vasily Potanin, his father Vladimir Potanin is a multi-billionaire and used to be Russia's deputy prime minister, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Mr Potanin told WPXI he does not support Russia's attack on Ukraine.

“They assume that just because of my nationality, I must be profiting from that. I’m Putin’s spy. I work for him. All this nonsense,” he said.

“Honestly I think for them, the best thing that can happen is they can have the consequences legally for their actions and they should face them.”

Mr Potanin also told KDKA he had received hateful messages in the mail, ordering him to leave the neighbourhood in which he has lived for four years.

Lisa Haabestad, 64, and Robert Pfaffmann, 66, of Pittsburgh are facing ethnic intimidation following the incident. Source: Pittsburgh Bureau of Police
Lisa Haabestad, 64, and Robert Pfaffmann, 66, of Pittsburgh are facing ethnic intimidation following the incident. Source: Pittsburgh Bureau of Police

He had never had any issues with his neighbours until the 2020 election, when people started defacing political signs in his front yard, KDKA reported.

However, the harassment got worse just a few weeks ago in line with Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

Images of the suspects were shared on social media.

In an update, police said Lisa Haabestad, 64, and Robert Pfaffmann, 66, are now facing charges, including ethnic intimidation, criminal mischief, and criminal conspiracy relating to the incidents.

Police also said the FBI had been notified.

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