After watching the president's speech at Luzhniki, Ivan Kunitsky went out on a solitary picket in downtown Omsk. He held a poster that said "Enough of Putin's tyranny." Half an hour later he was detained and taken to the police station, and then released with charges of discrediting the Russian Armed Forces.
The next night his house in the town of Sosnovka, where Ivan and his family live, was attacked by a local resident. Andrei Pereshivkin came to his neighbor with a shovel and knife. He broke the windows and tried to break the door, threatening Kunitsky that he would "answer for the poster.” How it happened - in the text from the 7x7 media.
Photos all over the town
Ivan Kunitsky, an electrician at a private company, lives with his wife and children in Sosnovka, a small town near Omsk. He almost never went to protest rallies, even after the poisoned Alexei Navalny was delivered to Omsk. However, everything changed for him on February 24, 2022, when Putin announced the beginning of a "special military operation."
“It was already my position: I do not support the military operation in Ukraine. But the trigger was the concert before February 23  that Putin held at Luzhniki. Dancing on the bones. I went out to downtown Omsk with a poster and stood there for about thirty minutes. An officer came up to me, introduced himself, photographed me, and asked me to follow him to the police station. They requested me to give an explanation [of my action] in writing and took away my phone," Ivan recalls.
The requests for an explanation and the phone came from Marat, the lieutenant who had detained him. Ivan mentions that Marat acted appropriately, but the situation escalated when another officer, in the rank of major, joined him. The major knew where Ivan worked, and this made him believe that the police had gathered all the information about him. Ivan had worked in Poland a couple of years ago, and he believed that the police had discovered this fact. The major behaved aggressively, according to Kunitsky.
“The major immediately started rubbing it in my face, saying that I was a traitor, that I had been recruited in Poland. That I was back with a task to undermine the constitutional order of Russia. And why did I come back here, since I was not happy here? Why do they need people like me here? He called me a cocksucker and used foul language," the man says.
The police officer also accused Ivan of cowardice, citing his travels to Kazakhstan after the partial mobilization announcement in 2022. Ivan was then sent for fingerprinting, which he refused to comply with. Eventually, the police released Ivan, after charging him with discrediting the army.
While Ivan was at the police station, his wife Anna was waiting outside. A friend from the town had sent her a picture of Ivan, which as she later discovered was taken by the police before his detainment. Anna asked her friend for the source of the image to make sure that there was no false information about her husband.
However, Anna's friend admitted that she had received the photo directly from the police and that they also inquired about Ivan's identity and connections. It was later revealed that the police had sent Ivan's photo at the picket along with Anna's friend to almost everyone in the town.
"Now you're going to answer for the poster"
After his release from the police station, Ivan and his wife went back to Sosnovka, a 40-minute drive from Omsk. However, Ivan soon received a phone call from a friend who told him that the police had visited his house inquiring about Ivan's whereabouts and whether it was he who had influenced Ivan to picket. The friend denied any recent contact with Ivan and advised him to do the same regarding contact with himself.
“Allegedly the cops told him [the friend] that they had received a command to hound Ivan. And that "it would end up really bad" for him. Ivan replied that he understood that, and the friend [said]: "Why did you come out [to picket]? You'd better come to me." Ivan said: "How much longer can we tolerate this? We endure this all and do nothing." The friend asked: "Do you at least feel better now?" Ivan said ‘yes’," Anna recalls that conversation.
After the phone call, the couple began packing to spend the night outside the town. They were planning to come back when everything calmed down. Late at night, Andrei Pereshivkin, a local resident, came to the house. He had a shovel in his hands.
“Pereshivkin came with a group [at least five other people], but he entered the front yard alone. He started banging on the windows and doors - we don't have a doorbell. The children woke up and came running downstairs: 'Mom, there's someone banging hard. He's breaking our windows.” We hesitated to open the door. We thought it was the police.
“We looked through the window and saw Andrei; we know him, we live in the same town. We asked him what he wanted. And he said: ‘Come out, Vanya [Ivan]. I want to talk to you. Come out, aren't you a man? It was good for you to stand with a poster, and now you will answer for the poster.’ And he is standing with a shovel in his hands," Anna told 7x7.
Ivan first wanted to go out and talk, but Anna saw something sticking out of the neighbor's pocket. She could not see clearly whether it was a knife handle or a screwdriver. Anna convinced Kunitsky to stay inside. The neighbor started breaking the door with a shovel and screaming at Ivan to come out. A video recorded by the family (available at the 7x7 office) shows Pereshivkin breaking the glass in the windows.
Eventually, he left. When exactly the spouses do not remember because of stress. They assume that the neighbor may have been frightened by threats to call the police.
The family did call the police, but nobody responded to their calls.
The Kunitskis called their friends telling them about the incident and asking for help. When they arrived, Pereshivkin was back, with the same company plus his wife.
“They started telling our friends, ‘Why did you come here? You're the same.’ They started yelling obscenities at them. My friends said that they came because of the child, [who] called and seemed greatly upset. And our neighbors said, ‘They're fascists, they're not humans; we should kill them! Such people shouldn't live here.’ And that we should die," Anna Kunitskaya says.
"Our accounts started getting hacked"
The family left the town. First Ivan packed up in hurry, and then his wife and children.
The next day, several publications reported the attack on Kunitsky's house. The police called the spouses asking where they were. They wanted their testimony about the incident with Pereshivkin. But the family was already on their way out of Russia.
“After the call, our social media accounts began to be hacked. We were driving, I was watching for directions on my phone and suddenly notifications started popping up: your account is being hacked [video of the screen recording is also available at the 7x7 office]. Up to 18 people a day were getting in our pages," Kunitsky says.
The Kunitskys assume that the attack was also provoked by the police as they sent a photo of Ivan on picket to virtually everyone in town. They had no conflicts with Andrei Pereshivkin before.
Now the Kunitskys are afraid that the police will harass their relatives in Russia.