Animal rights news from Russia
The Newsletter of the Animal Rights Centre VITA
No. 1 / 2008
In this issue:
Victory: 30 000 Baby Seals Saved!
The trip of Russian stars to the White Sea proved
to be productive: 30 000 baby seals were saved; the fight for
adult seals continues
Russia is the only country that allows the
slaughter of newborn pups of seals. During the last few months VITA
and other Russian animal protection organisations have been focusing
on the campaign to ban the hunting of baby seals in Russia. People
are especially outraged by the fact that this activity is financed
by Norwegian investors; if it were not for them, this practice would
have already stopped, as it had previously been in decline.
On February 28 VITA together with Russian celebrities held a press-conference
at the Interfax office in Moscow. On March 10 and 11 VITA and Russian
stars (Laima Vaikule, Artemy Troitski, Alena Sviridova, Alexander
F. Sklar and Victor Gusev) accompanied by film crews made an unprecedented
trip in two helicopters to the White Sea - the breeding ground of
The trip, which required a great deal of courage and effort on
the part of the celebrities, was made in two stages due to adverse
weather conditions. On the first day a snowstorm prevented the helicopters
from flying to the intended destination, so instead the travelling
group flew to the 'Wildlife' Club Camp where they witnessed first-hand
one of the most promising alternatives to the hunting business -
eco-tourism, in which dozens of local villagers are engaged.
On the second day more favourable weather conditions allowed the
helicopters to land near the seals' breeding ground where a
few pups had just been born, some with their umbilical cords still
attached. Amid this idyllic scene of seals with their newborn pups,
Russian stars stood in front of dozens of TV, video and photographic
cameras urging the public to join the campaign to ban the slaughter
on Russian territory of helpless baby seals.
This act of protest was widely covered by the media, and as a result
the hunt of seal pups planned for the period from 1st to 10th of
March did not take place, which has saved the lives of 30,000 animals.
And although the reason given by the special committee that had
cancelled the hunt was the dangerously thin state of the ice, the
real reason for the cancellation was the public outcry.
At present the question of the prohibition of hunting seal pups
is being considered by several state authorities and has been supported
by the newly elected Russian President.
As for the adult seals, the fight for them continues. Unfortunately,
those having vested interests in hunting the 'greys' managed to
stand their ground and obtained permission for the slaughter, so
on 25th March ships with hunters on board sailed off to hunt.
VITA continues its active campaign to ban seal hunting in Russia.
Unique Surgery Trainer Will Replace Animal Experiments
number of alternatives to animal experiments were presented during
the InterNICHE-Russia and VITA press conference that took place
at Moscow's Independent Press-Centre on February 20th. Alternatives
included the dog-model 'Jerry', models of rats and also the 'Pulsating
Organ Perfusion' (POP) surgery trainer. "This surgery trainer
will be donated to the university or hospital which declares there
is no need for animal experiments" - said Elena Maroueva, InterNICHE
national contact for Russia and VITA director, - "The POP trainer
will save the lives of thousands of animals and will help produce
highly qualified professionals in endoscopic surgery."
Say 'Yes' to Ethical Products!
'Say "Yes" to Ethical Products!' - this was the slogan
under which VITA opened a series of lessons at Moscow schools about
experiments carried out on animals to test cosmetics, perfumery
and household products. Pupils have learnt about current campaigns
against animal experimentation, about alternatives to cruel animal
tests for cosmetics, and have learnt how to recognise the products
not tested on animals.
"Unfortunately, Russian consumers are not very familiar with
the concept of 'ethics' when it comes to choosing a product, and
this allows the companies which are boycotted for their cruel animal
experiments in other countries to dominate in the Russian market"
- said Tatyana Maroueva, the project coordinator. "Having great
faith in the next generation, we have agreed with a number of Moscow
schools to give lessons on the protection of lab animals. We are
confident that pupils will not remain indifferent to the fate of
hundreds of thousands of rabbits, mice and other animals that fall
victim to the beauty industry".
VITA is very grateful to the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Stiftung organisation
for its help in the realisation of this project.
Russian Veterinary Medicine Has Been Deprived
Of Another Whole Group of Drugs
Russian vets have lots of difficulties with obtaining many necessary
drugs, which are banned from use in veterinary medicine in Russia.
The reason for this is the actions of the recently established State
Drug Control authority which restricts access to drugs as part of
its fight against the spread of narcotics. For instance, barbiturates
that are required for the humane euthanasia of animals are banned
from use in veterinary medicine. Vets also still have difficulties
with purchasing opiate and anaesthetic drugs. And now they are facing
another problem: as of January 15, 2008, Russian authorities took
the decision to control all potent and poisonous substances even
if they are just one of the many constituents of a drug. This means
that a whole group of the most important medicines are no longer
available to relieve animal suffering. VITA has alarmed the media
and on March 6 hold press-conference on the issue.
"Flying Video Banner" - Know-How in
the Fight for Animal Rights
At the end of February VITA started a unique
advertising campaign in the Internet with the participation of Russian
celebrities who are supportive of the animal rights movement. "Flying
video banner" is a new technology that creates the effect of
a live presence on the screen with a holographic image of a person.
The first banner picturing Laima Vaikule was dedicated to the opening
of the baby seal protection campaign. Soon video banners on animal
rights protection with other Russian stars will appear on VITA's
website and other sites. You can see the banners on: http://www.vita.org.ru/fur/baby-seals/laima-vaikule.htm
The Symbol of Peace is in Danger: Moscow Police
Stand Guard for Traditional Vietnamese Cuisine
On February 16 VITA received a complaint
from the residents of Chongarsky Avenue in Moscow, who said that
at 12 am they had detained a Vietnamese man who had been killing
pigeons under the windows of house No 22. The residents of the house,
who had witnessed the brutal killing of the birds by Vietnamese
people a number of times before, managed this time to catch the
offender red-handed. The man had a rucksack filled with birds with
broken necks. Despite the desperate resistance of the perpetrator,
the women who had caught him managed to hold him until the arrival
of the Police. The Vietnamese man was handed over to the police;
however the witnesses of the pigeon slaughter were denied the right
to file criminal charges under Clause 245 of the "Cruel Treatment
of Animals" Act, since the policemen failed to see any criminal
intention in the actions of the Vietnamese man, being quite satisfied
with the detainee's explanation that he just "wanted to eat".
So the only consolation in this case is that the offender had a
taste for Vietnamese cuisine rather than Asmat, which, as is known,
traditionally included cannibalism.
Unfortunately, once again, people who were trying to protect their
children from scenes of cruelty and violence were thwarted. VITA
has brought the issue to media attention.
On the Eve of Lent VITA Urged Russian People
to Become Vegetarian
On the 10th of March when Orthodox Christians
began their 40 day Easter Fast VITA issued a press-release urging
Russians to become vegetarian. During this period numerous food
products containing no animal ingredients appeared on the shelves
of food stores, which is why Lent is the best time for those planning
to switch to a vegetarian diet to do so. "People who keep the
Easter Fast notice an improvement in their health, both physical
and mental. Some continue to eat vegetarian food after the end of
the fast, becoming vegetarians, and in this way save the lives of
animals" - says VITA president, Irina Novozhilova. "We
hope that this Easter Fast will significantly add to the numerous
army of vegetarians."
VITA fights for justice in the trial of a local
On March 21st VITA and animal protection
organizations held a demo near the court of the Tushinksy district
of Moscow where the hearing in the case of Oleg Pykhtin, 35, had
just started. Oleg is known in the area as a local Robin Hood, a
fighter for justice, especially for animals. He is a man who is
not be afraid of knocking down a hooligan, fighting back, giving
a serious warning. People in the neighborhood are thankful to him
for saving many stray dogs, whose operations are paid for by Oleg
who nurses them afterwards. As of today Oleg is taking care of eleven
dogs rescued from the street. They live in an apartment with Oleg
and his mum.
On July 14, 2007, Oleg took four of his dogs for a walk. On his
way he bumped into a drunken Vladimir Chekeres with his Staffordshire
bull-terrier without a leash or a muzzle. Chekeres is known as causing
huge trouble for the neighborhood when he gets drunk and walks his
Staffordshire bull-terrier without a muzzle or a leash. In three
years the dog has attacked over ten dogs inflicting grave injuries.
Oleg asked Mr. Chekeres to put the dog on a leash the latter shouted
at him and hit him in the face. Oleg fought back and suggested taking
the dogs home and meeting up later to sort things out. Mr. Chekeres
refused, picked up a stick to hit Oleg on the head but the latter
covered himself with his arm and got hit on the shoulder. During
the fight that followed Oleg tried to keep his distance to avoid
attack by the Staffordshire bull-terrier who could easily have torn
him to pieces. The police arrived and took both to a police station
where Oleg's petition was ignored while the one by Mr. Chekeres
was taken into consideration. Even his drunk condition was not certified
in the documents. Oleg Pykhtin, the only person in the neighborhood
who could put the hooligan in his place, was taken to court. The
police refused to start legal proceedings against the owner of the
Staffordshire bull-terrier. VITA is filing a complaint to the police
supervisory body and alerting the media on the issue.
Belorussian Students Will Be Given Lectures on
Alternatives to Animal Experiments
On February 24, the International State
University of Ecology in Minsk, Belarus, introduced a new module
- 'Bioethics and Humane Alternatives to Animal Experiments for Biological
and Medical Education'. The initiators of this programme were Inna
Pavlovna Merkulova, a lecturer at the Department of Ecological Medicine
and Radiobiology at this university, and Irina Chekmareva, activist
of the ecological movement 'Eco-Uni' and of the Belorussian branch
VITA Asks Russian Supermarkets to Increase the Range of Vegetarian
On February 15, VITA as a member of the
International Vegetarian Union, sent letters to the managers of
Russia's largest supermarkets asking them to increase the range
of vegetarian products. "First of all, we noted the insufficient
availability of soya products such as; cheese, yoghurt, paste; wheat
protein products, hummus, peanut butter, mushroom pates and beans
among others" - says VITA project manager Constantine Sabinin.
"The spreading myth that all soya has been genetically modified
has led to the complete disappearance of soya products from the
shelves of Russian supermarkets. In our opinion, the attacks on
soya are caused by the fact that it is a serious competitor to animal
products, as soya is used for making alternatives to sausages, ham,
milk, cream, cheese, cottage cheese and desserts."
21st of March is Earth Day
On Earth Day public organisations around
the world took part in various ecological activities urging people
to take care of the environment. On this day VITA, which is also
a member of the International Vegetarian Union, issued a press-release
aimed at drawing people's attention to the ecological problems connected
with the meat industry.
VITA Begins Campaign Against Foie-Gras
On February 27, 2008, the Russian Press
published an article describing how HRH Charles, Prince of Wales,
issued an order banning foie-gras from menus in all his residences;
this prompted VITA to start a campaign to ban foie-gras in Russia.
On March 4, VITA appealed to Russian supermarkets, urging them to
stop selling this famous 'delicacy', produced at the expense of
the unbearable suffering of birds.
13th of March is International Anti-Chinese Fur Industry Day
VITA Sends a Letter To Chinese Ambassador
in Moscow - Mr Lu Guchan
For the third year running, on the 13th March, animal rights activists
of many countries held demonstrations at Chinese Embassies. VITA
sent a letter to the Chinese Ambassador in Moscow, Mr Lu Guchan.
The event was covered in the media.
New Document Added to the "Vegetarian Russia" Section
Continuing its research into the history of vegetarianism in pre-Revolutionary
Russia, VITA found an article by Lev Tolstoy's son entitled 'Dietary
Reform' in the archives of St. Petersburg State Library. The article
has been edited by VITA's staff. Lev Tolstoy junior followed his
father, the famous Russian writer, in becoming a vegetarian. In
his article he talks about the benefits of switching to a vegetarian
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 Margarita Williams and Sheelagh Graham for translating
and editing this newsletter.
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Elena Maroueva, Irina Novozilova
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