Pittsburgh Police looking into two people in Shadyside harassment, intimidation investigation

PITTSBURGH — Detectives are looking into two people after police say they harassed homeowners in Pittsburgh’s Shadyside neighborhood.

11 News spoke with neighbors, who told us about the hatred they’ve had to endure for the last month.

“I happen to be of conservative-leaning belief,” said Vasily Potanin. “Everyone puts their signs up and it’s all fun and games.”

Fun and games until February, around the time Russia invaded Ukraine.

“They started attacking me and targeting me because of that,” Potanin said.

Potanin, a Russian native, claims his yard signs displayed outside of his Shadyside home have brought unwanted attention. The signs include a Trump sign that reads “Miss me yet?” and a “Let’s go Brandon” flag.

“It started with slurs, like F Putin,” Potanin said. “Throwing things into the yard, my neighbors kids could see and got scared.”

According to Pittsburgh Police, detectives are investigating the two people pictured in a social media post earlier Thursday. Police tell us they have identified them.

Potanin had his yard signs defaced with political and anti-national messages, and a bag of rice thrown onto his property with ‘similar sentiments’ written on it.

He says the pair has threatened him with slurs and told him to leave the neighborhood.

“People assume because of my nationality, I must agree with everything Putin does,” Potanin said. “Therefore, I must support him and I’m his spy, I work for him. Their logic is convoluted.”

Potanin wasn’t the only one dealing with the alleged harassment.

“The man tells me based on your appearance and accent, it seems you are a Russian spy,” said John Nasr, who tells Channel 11 he’s been dealing with the same issues on a daily basis. “We’ve had dog poop thrown in our yard.”

Nasr believes he’s been targeted because he lives directly next door to Potanin and has an accent. Nasr, who is actually Lebanese, even caught one of the encounters on video.

“Coming here and wanting freedom for Ukraine and freedom for whoever you are protesting for, but on the other hand you are ethnically targeting me for the way I look, and because I sound different from you, which is completely hypocritical,” Nasr explained.

The FBI has been notified of this incident.

Pittsburgh Police say that although they have identified the two people, no charges have been filed and the investigation is ongoing.

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