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Animal rights news from Russia

The Newsletter of the Animal Rights Centre VITA
No. 1 / 2008

photos of action

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

photos of action

photos of action

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 seals.

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

Unique Surgery Trainer Will Replace Animal Experiments

A 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!

photo of exhibit

'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

<b>Russian Veterinary Medicine Has Been Deprived 
              Of Another Whole Group of Drugs</b>

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

Flying Video Banner

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

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 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 Robin Hood

VITA fights for justice in the trial of a local 
              Robin Hood

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.


Other news:

Belorussian Students Will Be Given Lectures on Alternatives to Animal Experiments

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 of InterNICHE.


VITA Asks Russian Supermarkets to Increase the Range of Vegetarian Food Products

VITA Asks Russian Supermarkets to Increase the Range of Vegetarian 
              Food Products

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

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

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

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

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 diet.

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.

If you are not on VITA's mailing list yet but would like to receive our free quarterly e-newsletter, please send your e-mail address to vita-russia@yandex.ru . To unsubscribe, please write to the same address.

Yours truly,

Elena Maroueva, Irina Novozilova
On behalf of VITA

VITA's Bank Details

Intermediary: Citibank N.A, New York
Swift: CITIUS33XXX
Account of Beneficiary's Bank: 10961534
Bank of Beneficiary: Ost-West Handelsbank AG
Frankfurt/Main
Swift: OWHBDEFF
Account of Beneficiary: 0104162433
Beneficiary: RUSSTROYBANK
Moscow, in Favor of the Centre for the Protection of Animal Rights (VITA)
Acct. No. 40703978400090001768
Purpose: Charitable Donation

 



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