The Newsletter of the Animal Rights Centre VITA
No. 1 2007
People Rush to Give Up Their Fur Coats at the ‘Farewell to Fur Coats’ Demonstration
In all likelihood, not one animal protection demonstration has had such stunning success and media coverage as VITA’s February demonstration “Farewell to Fur Coats”: Twenty-six TV cameras, not counting radio and print media, lit up this event in the centre of Moscow.
“We called attention to the problem delicately, gracefully, without emotions and aggression to lower the prestige of wearing fur, and we succeeded!” says the president of VITA, Irina Novozhilova.
In the centre of the square was a mountain of fur coats. Warning tape on the perimeter guarded the crime scene. Gigantic slides that read, “Farewell, fur coats!” as well as pictures of harp seals, foxes, raccoons, beavers, wolves and other animals in life size, and “cancelled” signs across pictures of fur farms and traps – so began the unique demonstration “Farewell to fur coats!” on February 12 in Novopushkinsky Square.
Dozens of coats, hats, collars and other items of genuine fur and leather – that was the result announcing VITA in the middle of January an event called “the ethics of obsolete things”, from which their owners retreated out of compassion for animals. The day of the demonstration was not chosen randomly: February 12 – first day of Shrovetide (Carnival) – is the beginning of the sending off of winter, symbolising the renewal of nature and freedom from everything old and obsolete.
Many of the people who gave up their fur coats at VITA’s request took part in the demo in order to speak at the microphone about the motives for their rejection of fur. The demonstration was supported by Russian folk artist and singer Elena Kamburova , recently the recipient of an award in the Kremlin, The Order of Friendship; the group “Szenacardia”, which was the grand-prize-winner of the Sochi festival “Five Stars” in 2005; and journalist and writer Irina Oziornaya. Elena Kamburova brought to the demonstration her own latest unethical thing – a doublet, which filled out the rows of “rejected” items. VITA is very grateful to those who appeared at the demonstration to get even with the fur industry.
Among the dozens of TV and radio interviews with journalists from the whole world, VITA was most happy about the London broadcast during which journalist Seva Novgorodets of the BBC expressed support of the Russians. Only the newspaper The Guardian – already sceptical of the growth of anti-fur campaigns in Russia and abroad – was unsupportive and deleted all arguments for the defence of animals from its interview.
About the demonstration “Farewell to fur coats”, producer Y. Yelkina created a videoclip using a song from the group “ Szenacardia”, “We Are All Guilty Toward Animals” ( http://www.vita.org.ru/video.htm).
‘Design Against Fur’ Makes Headway in Northern Russia and in Siberia
In the winter months, when Russia is dominated by fur, in the Northern Russian cities – including Arkhangelsk and Petrozavodsk – and also in Siberia ( Barnaul) – the exhibits of work of the anti-fur contest “Design against fur” first took place. The exhibits were a big success and attracted media and public attention and Russians to the contest, the theme of which this year was “Victims of fashion”.
The annual contest “Design Against Fur”, organised by the International Alliance Against Fur (www.infurmation.org) , becomes more and more popular in Russia every year. Five years ago, Russians were not very interested in participating in the contest, and VITA received only one entry. Last year, we received 299 entries.
Russians Outraged at the Killing of Newborn Seals
No bloody trade provokes so much emotion around the world as the slaughter of newborn harp seals.
Harp seals – the offspring of Greenland seals – are killed mostly for their fur. Helpless, naive and just beginning to move around, young seals get separated from their mothers. Hunters beat the animals with special clubs, catch them with hooks and drag them on the ice. Wounded harp seals die in agony, and some animals are skinned alive.
In Russia, a different – and even more terrible – method is used: Baby seals are separated from their mothers and taken onto the shore in special netted enclosures called “cribs”. Here, sealers wait for the harp seals to moult, when their white fur turns grey. Over the course of two or three weeks, deprived of their mothers’ milk, the infants live only on their own subcutaneous fat, helplessly crawling on the snow and crying from hunger while they wait to be slaughtered.
The slaughter of harp seals continues today in Canada, Russia, Greenland and Namibia. In Canada, more than 1 million Greenland seals were killed from 2003 to 2005 – the largest massacre of marine mammals in the world. In all these countries, it is legal to begin killing baby seals when they are 2 weeks old, from the moment when they begin to moult and turn grey. In Russia, the slaughter of harp seals is allowed at any age.
In our country, as in many countries around the world, 15 March is dedicated to protecting harp seals. By coincidence, Russia renewed the massive slaughter of harp seals in Arkhangelsk province – after several years’ hiatus – on the same date. The renewal was stipulated by the signing of a 6 March Norwegian-Russian socio-economic agreement. As a result of that agreement, Norwegians are getting ready to conduct an experiment: catching seals by ship. There are also plans to attract Russian and Norwegian investors and organize the construction of courts and complexes for the initial processing of Greenland seals.
Shifting this bloody trade to Russia is provocative, especially because it is prohibited to catch harp seals in Norway and the quota on the catch of the adult Greenland seals is small.
The agreement allowing the slaughter of harp seals in Arkhangelsk province to resume provoked a storm of indignation in the Russian community. “This agreement not only sets off the beginning of a bloody battle, it also puts Russia on the defensive by making it possible to engage in industries that are prohibited in progressive countries for ethical reasons”, stated Alexey Skrobanskiy , coordinator of the Arkhangelsk chapter of VITA. Skrobanskiy is initiating a nation-wide demonstration and Internet petition. A week of protest against the slaughter of harp seals started with the 15 March opening of the Arkhangelsk chapter of the VITA exhibit in defence of harp seals. Schoolchildren in the fifth class were invited to the exhibit. After discussion about harp seals and the unethical sealing industry, the children wrote their own appeal to the governor of Arkhangelsk province.
A nationwide protest in support of ending the harp seal slaughter took place in Moscow, Arkhangelsk , Murmansk, Petrozavodsk, St. Petersburg, Samar, Barnaul, Rostov-on-Don and others.
‘Children of the Sea Beg for Mercy’: An Exhibit in Moscow
On 19 March VITA opened an exhibit called “Children of the Sea Beg for Mercy ” in the Centre for Intellectual Progress. The Student Environmental Movement of Timiryazevski Academy and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) co-organised the arrangement. The exhibit featured the following presentations: entries in the international poster contest “Design Against Fur” 2006, photographs of Vadim Kantor’s “Baikal Seal”, IFAW’s photographs of harp seals, and children’s drawings. At the opening of the exhibit, journalists were shown unique films in defence of harp seals, including the following: Alexandra Blinova’s “Save and Protect” of Peliken studio and IFAW; Alexander Burmeistera’s I Am Writing You From the Baikal ; IFAW’s On One Wave With Seals and films about the harp seal slaughter shot by Sea Shepherd, Ren ТV and PETA.
The opening ended with a concert by the group EarlGrey. A petition to the State Duma protesting against the killing of harp seals was also started.
Recently, VITA organised a petition of Russian stars to appeal to Putin with a plea to cease the slaughter of harp seals in Arkhangelsk province. The petition will be discussed at a news conference with the participation of the famous cultural icons who have signed the petition.
Victory in Rostov: People Should Know the Truth About Fur
What do dealers operating in cruel industries linked with exploitation and killing of animals fear more than anything else in the world? The truth, of course! Informing people about the raising and killing of animals for fur and meat is capable of striking a crushing blow to these cruel industries, as has been demonstrated in Western countries.
Today, in many Russian cities, activists with different animal protection organisations set up raids to distribute leaflets about the bloody side of the fur industry in order to inform the public, and their work can last for years. However, it often happens that activists meet with resistance on the part of furriers, who turn to cunning and fraud. On 10 December, the International Day of Animal Protection, members of Defenders of Animals handed out VITA leaflets called “The Price of Fur” near fur salon the Kingdom of Fur Renaissance.
In keeping with the Russian constitution, every person has the right to freely look for, receive, translate, carry out and disseminate information by any legal means; the distribution of non-commercial materials is in no way illegal. The store’s administration, not finding legal means to stop the dissemination of shocking information about its wares, turned to breaking the law, calling the police and purposely slandering activists, in violation of the law.
VITA came to the defence of its Rostov colleague, directing its appeal to public prosecutor of the Kirov Region Rostov-on-Don, where an incident took place. On 19 January, a lawsuit ended in victory for Natalia Antipina – one of the participants in the raid to distribute leaflets.
Ethical Cosmetics – A Better Gift for International Women’s Day!
On 8 March, International Women’s Day VITA, carried out an action called “Beauty Without Cruelty” in order to draw the public’s attention to the problem of cruel experiments on animals in the cosmetics industry. As a rule, cosmetics are given as often as flowers to women on 8 March. On the square in front of the Aeroport shopping centre, protest participants sat in collared devices that were constructed to look like those used on rabbits who are undergoing the cruel cosmetics test called the Draize test. (The idea for this action was borrowed from Animal Friends Croatia.) The rest of the participants were dressed in rabbit masks and chanted slogans “Beauty Without Cruelty!” and “The Best Gift on 8 March – Animals’ Lives”.
While participants in the action demonstrated in front of the cameras, gigantic cardboard bottles of famous cosmetics brands that carry out cruel experiments on animals were thrown into a heap. Leaflets that clarified the criteria for being chosen as an ethical cosmetics company as well as lists of “good” and “bad” companies on the Russian market were delivered to passers-by.
It is only recently that information about cruel experiments on animals has come light in Russia, with regard to the cosmetics industry and modern alternatives. However, the average Russian consumer is still not acquainted with the criteria for selecting ethical cosmetics. This raises the possibility for unethical companies which are boycotted in other countries to dominate in the Russian market. The cruellest animal testing for cosmetics, perfume and household chemicals is conducted by Procter & Gamble – Russian consumers’ favourite company. This company tortures 50, 000 animals to death in its laboratories every year, despite public protest. Other companies infamous for cruelty to animals include Johnson & Johnson, Unilever and Gillette.
In spite of the holiday, five video cameras lit up the action. On the basis of this footage, VITA released a video ad.
Students of the Timiryazevski Academy – on the Introduction of Alternatives to Experiments on Animals
Among the ranks of students at the Timiriazevski Agricultural Academy, the movement for humane education is gathering strength. Student environmental activists and VITA volunteers recently familiarised teachers at the academy with humane alternatives to animal experiments. On 21 March, Alexandra Kosheleva exhibited at a student conference and gave a talk about new methods of instruction that do not include animal experimentation. The talk was a big success and drew the interest of instructors and students. The Russian branch of InterNICHE spoke with instructors about the possibility of introducing alternatives to animal experimentation into academia.
A Prize for the Most Humane Institute of Higher Learning in Russia Is Born in the Workshop of Alexander Tsigal
A clay frog, which over months changed into bronze with a surprisingly beautiful green cast, was the reward to be given to the most humane institute of higher learning in Russia. This title is bestowed on veterinary, biological or medical schools in which students learn without causing animal suffering. Well-known sculptor Alexander Tsigal, who made the “Georgy Pobedonosets” sculpture for the Senate cupola in the Presidential Palace of the Kremlin, the “Justice” sculpture on the building of the Supreme Court of Russia, the angels over the gateway at the eastern entrance to the Temple of Christ the Saviour and the beloved Russian dog “Malchik” at the Mendelevsky metro station, responded to VITA’s proposal to create the charitable symbolic prize.
This prize is the first one introduced in 2007 by VITA, InterNICHE, IAAPEA and Ethical committee of Russian Science Academy for replacing students’ experiments on animals with humane alternatives. The presentation of the prize was linked to World Day for Animals in Labs (24 April) and took place on 21 April, on the opening of the annual Veterinary Congress in Izmailovo.
“We want to stimulate institutes to switch to more humane and higher-quality methods of instruction, just as they are being accepted in the whole world and in three Russian institutes of higher learning”, says Elena Maroueva, director of VITA and InterNICHE national contact in Russia. “Why is the prize a frog? Because it’s frogs who are students’ first victims, and it is by crossing this ethical boundary that a student becomes less empathetic and compassionate to others’ pain. The amazing hand-carved sculpture of a frog, which came from Tsigal’s workshop, is the most suitable reward for a humane institute of higher learning!”
News Conference in RIA News About the Successes of the Russian Animal Rights Movement
On 2 February at 12 noon in RAMI RIA News, a news conference titled “Defence of the Rights of Animals: The Russian and International Experience” took place. VITA leaders Elena Maroueva and Irina Novozhilova, writer and journalist Irina Oziornaya and attorney Stanislav Markelov participated in the news conference.
The fact that one of the most quoted information agencies in Russia organised a news conference on the subject of animal rights indicates that the successes of the animal rights movement in Russia are becoming more noticeable.
Participants in the news conference discussed the situation of animals in Russia, Russian animal protectionists’ most interesting projects, the successes of the animal rights movement in Russia, alternatives to experiments on animals in Russian institutes of higher learning, the participation of Russian stars in animal protection projects, the history of the creation of the memorial to homeless animals called “Sympathy” in metropolitan Moscow, the reasons for the enactment of anti-cruelty laws in Russia, the politics of unethical industries in Russia, the “Farewell to Fur Coats” demonstration, the rejection of fur by Russian stars and more.
At the news conference, there was a demonstration of models – an alternative to experiments on animals in academia.
First Medical Talk Show About Vegetarianism, With Tatiana Drubich
When writer and journalist Irina Oziornaya speaks about veganism, it’s hard not to think, “How come I never thought of that?” Her calm, wisdom, humour and absolute confidence in winning us over create a special atmosphere in the room and at the end of the broadcast, both the leaders and the most fervent detractors of the animal rights movement express admiration.
On 10 March, Irina Oziornaya appeared in St Petersburg on the first medical talk show, Painful Question, which is hosted by famous actor Tatiana Drubich. The topic of the show was vegetarianism, and Oziornaya was its main proponent. Actor and TV host Andrei Urgant was her opponent. The group Szenacardia, VITA and sculptor Alexander Tsigal also appeared on the show.
The story of this talk show is very interesting.Three years ago, after VITA put out a news release about veganism, Izvestia journalist Tatiana Bateniova called VITA, very sceptical about veganism. We succeeded in partly dispelling her doubts and got her in touch with a doctor at a scientific vegetarian centre. We also told her about our personal experiences with veganism. Over the next three years, Tatiana called VITA again and published an interview with vegans, devoting an entire page to this topic. The TV programming producer read the interview and decided to do a broadcast on the subject.
The broadcast included snippets of VITA’s film ‘ Hamburger Revealed’ and VITA’s clip of a song from the group Szenacardia “To Animals, We Are All Guilty.”
VITA Project: Interviews With Famous Russian Vegetarians
In January of this year, VITA started an interesting project called “Interviews With Famous Russian Vegetarians”. In these exclusive interviews, which are available on our Web site, Russian vegetarians discuss their ways of life, philosophies, reasons for going vegetarian, particular passions and many other topics.
From January to March, three initial interviews with journalist Irina Oziornaya; a DJ from the radio station “M-radio” Garik-kosmonaut; and the lead singer of the group Szenacardia, Alexander Martynov, took place. More interviews in the series are being prepared for release.
‘Hamburger Revealed’ Presented in the Daniil Film Club
On 2 March, VITA, author of the film about vegetarianism “Hamburger Revealed”, was invited to a showing of documentary films at Daniil, a film club. During the showing, professional producers, artists, critics and journalists discussed the work of various filmmakers. The director of the project “Young Russian Cinema”, V. Senkevich, laid out his goals: Encourage makers of documentary cinema, attract young directors to Russian and foreign festivals and get acquainted with interesting cinema in national movie theatres.
As a rule, film showings include the work of film-studies graduates and authors of film studies. The showing, which lasted about six hours, featured remarkable documentaries about anti-fascism, the tragedy in Beslan and the dying out of people who live near the Baikal. “Hamburger Revealed” was shown last. We expected to be criticized by professional filmmakers and were delighted when the film met with approval and understanding and provoked lively discussion. More than anything, the topic of animal suffering sparked interest among the young directors, with whom VITA plans further cooperation.
Ten Protest Actions … and the Trial of Ryzhik’s Murderer Suspended?
It was symbolic that 21 March, the sad anniversary of the dog Ryzhik’s murder by a guard at the Konkovo station in the Moscow metro, coincided with the 10th court session on this matter. The case was closed and given no further consideration. VITA’s 10th protest action regarding this case took place on the same day. It was announced in Cheremushkinsky Court in Moscow that “in accordance with the petition to the government prosecutor on the matter, a court-appointed veterinary expert should establish whether the dog nicknamed ‘Ryzhik’ had bodily injuries at the time of treatment at the vet clinic, as well as the character and degree and gravity of the trauma”. In spite of this, experts should give a determination of the cause of the dog’s death.
What drew endearing, friendly Ryzhik to the guard at the Konkovo metro station, B. Syrov – who, on 21 March 2006, killed the dog with a knife handle at around 3 p.m., in front of visitors to the metro – is unknown. Witness Ekaterina Kolycheva gathered evidence on this incident. VITA drew it to the attention of the media, and the matter received enormous attention.
After the beating, Ryzhik was placed in a shelter called Eco, where, over the course of two weeks, he remained in intensive care. His progress was documented by TV cameras and the sleepless public, who were hoping for a miracle. It didn’t appear possible to save Ryzhik, in spite of the veterinarians’ efforts: He was suffering from closed-skull brain trauma, concussion, oedema on the brain, internal haematoma, loss of eyesight in the left eye, and damage to the lungs and kidneys. Ryzhik died on 3 April 2006 at midday.
Muscovites and Russian Stars Ask the Mayor of Moscow Not to Retreat From Humane Politics With Regard to Homeless Animals
It’s sad, but it’s a fact that not one legal initiative calling for an improvement to the situation of animals in Russia has passed. Seven years ago, the president of Russia vetoed a federal law that would have protected animals from cruelty and has since defeated a Moscow law that called for strengthening the legal prohibition on the murder of homeless animals in Moscow. To date, the only animal protection achievement in the province is the resolution of the mayors (which has a weaker legal standing than a law) of Moscow and St.Petersburgh, banning the killing of homeless cats and dogs.
However, in Moscow, this progressive resolution was misunderstood for five years, and authorities kept trying to return to the previous official practice of killing cats and dogs. This February, VITA became involved with this issue because the Moscow government was preparing a project about the new resolution called “On the Ratification of the Regulation of Maintenance of Dogs and Cats in Moscow”. This new project essentially annuls Moscow Mayor Y.M. Luzhkov’s resolution prohibiting the killing of homeless animals. The new project seeks to grant the prefects the authority to decide how to handle the problem of homeless animals – a strategy that ended five years ago.
Preparations for these regressive changes were widely discussed within animal protection circles and in the news, and VITA obtained the document that called for these changes and posted it on our Web site. On 21 February in Novopushkinsky Square, VITA led an action in support of a humane programme of sterilisation and organised the presentation of a petition to the mayor of Moscow. In spite of the intense cold, more than 100 people from various public organisations took part in the action. A few dozen petitions, signed by more than 100 people, were given to the Mayor’s Office in front of TV cameras and journalists.
However, enterprising Muscovites decided to go further. Over the course of a few weeks, activists in the capital gathered signatures in support of a sterilisation programme. Stars signed individual appeals to the mayor of Moscow, and when the number of signatures reached 5,000, this collective letter was given to the mayor.
On 29 April, VITA invited video cameras to the Mayor’s Office in order to document the public appeal to the mayor of Moscow. VITA appeared at the capitol with a delegation of 5,000 Muscovites and 35 cultural icons, including artist Serge Tsigal, co-creator of the famous memorial to homeless animals “Sympathy”, and journalist Irina Oziorskaya, the memorial’s curator.
The Story of One Rescue
An extraordinary situation recently arose in one of the apartment houses in southeast Moscow. In July, a homeless pregnant dog darted through the open door of a basement and gave birth to six puppies. One of the residents fed the puppies, and they grew fat and hid whenever anyone went into the basement.
When the dogs became adolescents, the first-floor residents started to complain about the barking, and the dog’s guardian turned to the animal protection Web site “Dog and Cat” for help. Activists tried several times to take the puppies out of the basement. This wasn’t easy: When the activists and municipal workers went down to the basement, the dogs immediately hid in the underground tunnel joining the two buildings. Plan B did not succeed either because the municipal workers were not permitted to open the basement vent: The dogs were not fed for several days, then the vent would be opened. Activists and municipal workers would be waiting nearby outside the building with a lure and a tranquilizer gun. But as soon as the dogs had got the lure, they immediately tried to dart back into the basement – at which point someone tried to shoot them with the tranquiliser gun. The danger was that a tranquilised dog could have run back into the basement and gone into the tunnel.
One of the building’s residents lied to the rest and said that the guardian deliberately kept the dogs in the basement, not knowing where else to take them. She claimed she saw that the dogs were running in the street, which led to the guardian’s driving them back into the basement. The rest of the residents were extremely aggressive, calling the police and demanding that the dogs be taken away immediately. They also wouldn’t let animal protectionists enter the basement anymore, and they decided to open the vents.
The municipal workers wanted to avoid conflict with the residents, so they resorted to trickery. The next time the dogs hid from the noise of the workers in the underground tunnel, the workers closed the tunnel’s entrance. It was announced to the residents that the dogs had been cleared from the basement and were running on the street. However, the animals’ guardian knew very well that the dogs were still in the tunnel.
VITA called TV channels 1 and 3. In front of the cameras, VITA told about the scandal. The building’s residents left, and the manager was called. The manager argued with the residents and announced that dogs cannot be in the basement and that if they were there, he was prepared to render assistance to the animal protectionists. The situation arrived at an impasse. Finally, VITA returned to the local police department and appealed for assistance in a notice about cruelty to animals, which is a crime. The police were notified that the animals were going to be taken out of the basement at night, when the vents were open, and that some residents would be calling the police and demanding that they get rid of the dogs.
With the support of the police, VITA and the manager met with journalists. VITA asked the manager to accompany us to the basement and open one of the vents at night. At first we couldn’t see the dogs. But in front of the last exit, VITA asked to take a look at the farthest compartment of the basement, which had a little hole in the floor. When the manager turned the light on in the underground tunnel and whistled, we heard a muffled bark.
The manager called the municipal workers and gave them instructions to open up the nearest vent to the tunnel. We agreed to station ourselves by the vent with nets until the dogs came out. Over the next several days, “Dog and Cat” activists stayed near the vent and waited for the dogs. The dogs eventually came out, and the manager was very kind and mentioned our cooperative agreement to open the vent several times. On 7 January, the dogs were delivered to an animal shelter.
Battle With Animal Dealers: VITA’s Raids in the Moscow Metropolitan Area
Before the last New Year’s holiday, VITA put out a news release appealing to Muscovites not to give animals purchased from breeders as gifts. This report attracted the interest of Novaya Gazeta, which has repeatedly raised the topic of dyed kittens and animal dealers. We agreed with a journalist of Novaya Gazeta to conduct joint raids on metro underpasses, where, as a rule, criminal businesses that exploit animals flourish. Novaya Gazeta also attracted the economic police, as the sale of dyed kittens is a type of swindling and relates to economic crime.
The raids by animal protectionists – together with police officers and TV journalists – in the metro and at the bird market produced results and scared the worst dealers.
A Monument to Homeless Animals Is Established in Moscow
VITA constantly provides information for projects that try to make the humane treatment of animals the norm. On 17 February, we put out a news release and invited journalists to a joyful event: the unveiling of the world’s first memorial to a humane relationship with homeless animals: “Sympathy”. This bronze memorial is an honour for our country.
“Sympathy” was created pro bono by sculptor Alexander Tsigal, painter Sergei Tsigal and architect Andre Nalich and provides a permanent “home” for Malchik, the dog in whose memory the monument was erected.
The idea behind the monument’s creation attracted dozens of famous personalities. The memorial’s location is no accident: Right behind it, at the entrance to the Mendelevsky metro station, Malchik – a homeless animal who was being cared for by metro workers – was stabbed to death with a kitchen knife in public. The newspaper Izvestia ran a total of five pages, written by Irina Oziornaya, dedicated to the complexity of the investigation of this crime.
Attending the unveiling of the monument, Irina Oziornaya, who supervised the project, recalled the words of Leo Tolstoy, saying, “Our relationship to animals in society – which is the first stage of morality and is impossible to skip – clearly demonstrates the moral condition of our society”.
‘Turn Off the Faucet!’: Round-Table Discussion on Homeless Animals in RIA News
On 14 March, in RIA News, a round-table discussion took place called “Homeless Animals: Is Sterilisation a Solution to the Problem?” Biologists, representatives of the Moscow government, veterinarians, attorneys and animal defenders were invited to the discussion. The participants attempted to answer two main questions: Is the sterilisation of homeless animals a thoroughly effective method of regulating their population, or are other measures necessary? Why have no laws been passed up until now that would regulate the relationship between the city’s human and animal inhabitants?
The president of VITA, Irina Novozhilova, agreed with biologist А Vereshchaginy that “Russia’s approach to solving the problem of homeless animals is like trying to bail out water with a spoon – when what we really need to do is turn off the faucet”. She discussed the necessity of strictly controlling the breeding of animals – the main thing sustaining the animal market and the reason there are homeless animals on the streets – as well as the West’s clever solutions to the problem of homeless animals, social programmes to promote the adoption of animals from animal shelters and more.
VITA Is Invited to Consult on Two Documentary Films About Animal Protection
In February, two film studios invited VITA to consult on the creation of documentaries about animal rights. The first film, They and We , by Golden Film, depicts the relationship between the human experimenter and the animal who is experimented on. The film is divided into five parts and compels us to look at the world through animals’ eyes. VITA representatives and documentary personnel also discuss the use of animals in various other areas. The second film, studio SoHm’s Beginning of the End , warns viewers of the impact of humans’ anthropocentricism on our ecological future. The film features scholars, economists and politicians, who analyse humans’ economic activities and their consequences.
Cultural Crusade (Kultpohod) Magazine – Outpost of Progressive Ethical Thought
Sometimes you see cultural interest in the topic of animal rights coming from the mass media. Traditionally understood, culture tends to be isolated from the question of the suffering of animals. Albert Schweitzer called it “playing the piano without any keys”. This view is similar to that espoused by Baron Zsupan in Johann Strauss’ operetta Gypsy Baron:
Zsupan: “I run a pig farm, and I am the president of the commission on morality.”
Homonay: “You mean you breed pigs in the spirit of morality?”
Zsupan: “No, morality I conduct in one place, and I breed pigs in another.”
However, most people today realize that moral progress cannot be separated from the changing relationships that people have with their neighbours on the planet. The magazine Cultural Crusade (http://www.kult-pohod.ru/) is a big gift for animal rights campaigners. Alfira Arslanova is the magazine’s editor and promised in one of its first issues never to print any information that may harm animals.
VITA has teamed up with Culture Crusade, starting with the October (No. 10) issue, to publish materials about the rights of animals. In each issue, Culture Crusade ran a thematic poster by artist N. Morozova on various aspects of animal rights. The November issue featured “Save Homeless Animals!”; the December issue featured “Look Fur in the Face!”; the January/February issue featured “Don’t Eat Your Friends!”; the March issue featured “Cosmetics Without Cruelty” and an article by VITA; and the April issue ran an article about the use of exotic animals. This May, Culture Crusade will feature a VITA article about hunting and an anti-hunting poster.
VITA Takes Part in a Meeting Against Repressive Drug Control
Three years ago, the battle began with the Russian narcotics law enforcement agency, which made the use of the most basic veterinary anaesthetics illegal. These prohibitions, which are inexplicable to all rational people, have led to dozens of veterinarians’ being threatened with seven to 15 years in prison simply for helping sick animals. Open searches were conducted while veterinarians were performing surgery, and the frightened colleagues of vets who had been caught anaesthetising animals began performing surgery without narcotics. Thousands of animals suffered torturous deaths.
VITA came to the defence of the animals and the Russian veterinarians. Hundreds of TV broadcasts and media articles and dozens of news conferences and public protests were necessary to stop the persecution of veterinarians. The battle has yet to be won, however; now pharmacists are being sent to prison for dispensing narcotics. On 27 January, VITA supported an action against the repressive governmental narcotics-control agency. The action was called “Day of Freedom”, and it was organised by the Russian movement For the Rights of Humans, which is composed of human rights organisations as well as individuals.
VITA’s New Volunteer Department
In January, VITA’s volunteer department was created and began active work in eight areas: humane education, vegetarian outreach, anti-fur and anti-vivisection campaigns, a homeless animals project, a PR project, and a demo division. VITA’s Web site now includes a page for the volunteer department, which operates the distribution of volunteers. From January to March, VITA accomplished the following projects: the “Beauty Without Cruelty” and “Farewell to Fur Coats” protests; the “Children of the Sea Plead for Mercy” exhibit; lessons on animal rights in schools and more. VITA prepared themed seminars for the volunteers, two of which – “Legal Basis of Russia” and “Alternatives to Animal Experiments in Education” – took place in January and February.
What Children Know About the Problems of Animals
On the 12 th of February VITA co-workers led a series of lessons in Moscow schools. The experience showed us what children of the younger and middle classes know about the problems of animals.
We began every lesson by asking, “Is it necessary to protect animals?” In every class, children unanimously answered “yes”. They showed a great deal of interest in animals’ problems, and they had the opportunity to express themselves in defence of animals. Children are well informed about traditional ecological and environmental issues, including deforestation, the extinction of species and environmental pollution. However, the next generation has only a vague notion of how animals who are forced to serve human beings suffer.
During the lesson, children were told about the conditions for animals in factory farms and on fur farms, the use of animals in experiments, the use of animals in entertainment and the problems of homeless animals. At the end of the lesson, the children painted pictures of anything they wanted, which you can see on VITA’s Web site.
Dear Animal Friend,
Thank you for your love and compassion for animals. Thank you for caring about abused animals in Russia, such a faraway place to you. Thank you for being there for animals in your own way.
If you have the means, please support VITA in any way you can. This will help us continue our animal rights campaigns. We cordially thank our readers who have helped us so far. Thank you, friends!
We also thank Karen Porreca and Liz Sanger from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in the USA for translating and editing this newsletter.
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Elena Maroueva, Irina Novozilova
On behalf of VITA
VITA’s bank details:
Citibank N.A, New York
Account of Beneficiary’s Bank: 10961534
Bank of Beneficiary:
Ost-West Handelsbank AG
Account of Beneficiary: 0104162433
Moscow, in Favor of the
Center for the Protection of Animal Rights (VITA)
Acc. No. 40703978400090001768
Purpose: Charitable Donation