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KETAMINE SCANDAL: THREE VETS ACQUITTED

Other prosecuted vets still face imprisonment or fines

Read animal rights news from Russia in

The newsletter of the Russian animal rights organisation VITA
2, 2004 (April, May, June)

In this issue:
- Ketamine scandal: operations on animals without anaesthetics?
- The young against furs in Russia
- Promotion of alternatives to animal experiments
- Moscow stray sterilisation program under threat
- Dog murderers prosecuted
- Monument to a murdered stray

Vita continues pressure for complete
legalisation of Ketamine

From autumn 2003 Russian Anti-Drug Committee has been prosecuting 19 veterinarians for the use of medical drug Ketamine. The drug is essential to anaesthize animals during operations. On May 18 Moscow court of justice dismissed all the charges against veterinarian Konstantin Sadovedov. Several days later two other veterinarians were acquitted as well.

The three vets were acquitted only because the dose of Ketamine they had with them during the search was minimal. The future of the other 16 vets still remains unclear. Many of them had more Ketamine with them than the officially allowed maximum dose (1 gram). If found guilty, the vets face 3 to 15 years of imprisonment, or fines. The state still doesn't see the absurdity of its charges against vets: "illegal drug spread through injection to (for example) a cat".

Veterinarians all over the world use Ketamine in combination with other drugs to anaesthize animals before operations. In Russia there are no alternatives to Ketamine.

For years Russian vets had successfully used the drug. However in 1998 the Ministry of Agriculture reviewed the list of medical drugs legally allowed for the use in veterinary medicine. Ketamine was not included into the list. "Simply forgot" - explained the Ministry employees later.

Until recently, vets had ignored the ban, and continued to perform operations under proper anesthesia, effectively breaking the law. In autumn 2003 the Anti-Drug Committee started a new wave of its war on drugs. Committee inspectors started persecuting and prosecuting vets for the use of Ketamine.

After numerous VITA actions and public protests, in January 2004 the Ministry of Agriculture lifted the ban on Ketamine. However vets still have to get state licenses to be able to use the drug. Various ministries shift responsibility to each other as to who should issue the licenses. As a result vets get no licences at all. Thus in practice Ketamine is still illegal for veterinary use. Inspectors of the Anti-Drug Committee keep prosecuting vets.

On April 6, May 18 and 26 VITA held peaceful actions at the Moscow Kuzminskiy and Zamoskvoretskiy courts. VITA protested against the trial of veterinarians Konstantin Sadovedov and Alexander Duka. Famous singer Juriy Antonov, actor Oleg Anofriyev, other Russian celebrities, students, veterinarians, human and animal rights organisations attended the action. All the actions were widely covered in the media.

VITA invited the JERRY RUBIN BAND to hold a small theatre performance during the action of April 6. An activist who played a compassionate veterinarian "operated" on a sick dog and a cat - other activists. As soon as he "injected" the "animals" with Ketamine, actors in black costumes - drug inspectors - arrested him. They put the vet into a cage, which symbolised imprisonment.

On May 18, participants of the VITA demonstration signed an open letter to president Putin urging him to stop prosecutions of vets and to legalise Ketamine for the use in veterinary medicine. Mr. Putin hasn't answered the letter. The office of general prosecutor and Supreme Court declined VITA's May appeal to stop prosecutions of vets.

However in May Konstantin Sadovedov and two other vets were acquitted. The Drug Control Committee urged MOSGORSUD - Moscow highest judicial body - to review the decision of the courts. MOSGORSUD declined the request.

On May 26 organisation FOR HUMAN RIGHTS and VITA held a press-conference to inform the media and the public of illegal and provocative methods used by the Anti-Drug Committee to catch vets "red-handed".

For example, on April 29 inspectors of the Anti-Drug Committee burst into a veterinary clinic in the Russian town of Vladimir. They stopped an urgent operation for womb removal on a dog. Inspectors questioned the veterinarian and the dog guardian. As the operation was interrupted, the dog died the day after.

After the death of the dog, VITA requested Vladimir public prosecutor to institute proceedings against the Anti-Drug Committee for animal maltreatment, according to the article 245 of the Russian criminal code. The prosecutor didn't find anything wrong about the Committee's actions, and refused to bring a suit against the Committee inspectors.

Meanwhile in April the Anti-Drug Committee used another trick to "disrobe" more vets. The Committee sent a questionnaire to veterinary clinics. Vets had to answer whether they used Ketamine in 2002-2003, and if not, which alternatives they used.

If vets answer that they did use Ketamine, they will pass their own sentence. This is clear. If they write that they used alternatives, thus they will acknowledge that there are qualitative alternatives to the drug. The truth is that there is no alternative to the drug in Russia.

VITA made a number of revealing publications on the Committee's new set-up methods, and called to vets to disregard the questionnaire.

On June 9 VITA activists, human rights activists, vets and students held a demonstration in Vladimir during the hearing of the case of a prosecuted Vladimir vet Olga Tanayeva. The second hearing of Tanayeva's case will take place in August. VITA will keep her pressure for the acquittal of regional vets in Vladimir and other Russian towns.

Throughout the last three months VITA carried an electronic protest campaign on the Ketamine problem. Hundreds of animal lovers in Russia and overseas wrote to Mr.Putin and asked him to legalise Ketamine and to stop prosecutions of vets.

VITA cordially thanks all those of you who have written to Mr.Putin. Our special thanks to the Belgian animal rights organisation GAIA for appealing to her members to write to Mr.Putin.

The Ketamine problem is still extremely acute in Russia. Good news is that it is widely discussed in the media, which would never have been the case in the socialist USSR. Vets would most probably have been jailed, or heavily fined. Ketamine would probably have remained illegal, and general public wouldn't have heard a word about the problem.

Times are different now. Subject to pressure from VITA, general public and the media, authorities slowly react, and courts have acquitted three veterinarians. However this gives no guarantees for the future. Vets still get no licenses for the use of Ketamine, and are still being prosecuted.

VITA will keep her pressure, and will keep you posted on the developments.


SYMPATHY FOR FUR-BEARING ANIMALS
IN THE LAND OF FURS


3000 Russian children and adolescents against furs

On April 14 the winners of children and adolescent competition aimed at the protection of fur-bearing animals were rewarded at the E.Kamburova theatre in Moscow. The competition was organised by VITA and supported by Brigitte Bardot, Elena Kamburova, and others.

To take part in the competition schoolchildren made drawings or wrote compositions on the topic "Can the killings of animals for furs be justified?" VITA supplied the participating 150 schools with the video film "Let Them Live!" of THE EUROPEAN FEDERATION FOR NATURE AND ANIMALS, and educational materials on the cruelties of fur production.

VITA received over 3000 drawings and compositions from all over Russia. A team of judges lead by Brigitte Bardot chose the winners.

The judges of the competition were:

Brigitte Bardot: BRIGITTE BARDOT FOUNDATION, France (chair)
Julia Dolgorukova: artist, Russia
Irina Ozyornaya: writer, journalist, Russia
Elena Kasian: artist, Sweden
Fiona Oakes: TOWER HILL STABLES ANIMAL SANCTUARY, Great Britain
Anna Parizhskaya: arts specialist, Great Britain
Daniel Richardson: author, arts specialist, Great Britain
VITA

Famous Russian singer, actress and theatre manager Elena Kamburova rewarded the winners of the competition during the official reward ceremony at the E.Kamburova theatre. Children and adolescents were presented with various souvenirs, cruelty free perfumery, books, stickers, etc.

The winners of the competition are: Chairutdinova Nargiza (1 place, drawings), Vasilenko Viktoriya (2 place), Cherdakova Katya (3 place), Korovina Maria (1 place, compositions), Kovalchuk Evgenia (2 place), Tishina Elena (3 place). Over 100 other competition participants were rewarded with recognition certificates, animal rights stickers, books and souvenirs.

Brigitte Bardot sent special prizes to fifteen competition participants whose works touched the heart of the famous animal advocate. VITA distributed Mme Bardot's thank-you letter among the participating schools.

VITA cordially thanks the judges of the competition. VITA also thanks individuals and organisations who assisted us with the prizes and materials for the competition: BRIGITTE BARDOT FOUNDATION, PETA, Fiona Oakes, Lydia Belknap, PCRM, ANIMALS AUSTRALIA, trade networks WELEDA and M?LLER (Switzerland). VITA expresses her gratitude to the E.Kamburova theatre for providing room for the reward ceremony, and to THE MARCHIG TRUST for assisting VITA with the video materials. We thank animal advocates from Russia and ex-Soviet republics for helping VITA publicize the competition.


HUNT is the elder brother of WAR!


On May 7, 20 VITA activists held a legal peaceful action on the Pushkin square in Moscow. VITA protested against mass killing of animals for their meat and pelts during hunting seasons.

"HUNT is the elder brother of WAR!" - declared the activists over and over through the microphone. "Cool guys don't hunt!" - ran a huge board held by the activists. The action was timed to the opening of the spring hunting season, and to the day of victory over fascism in the Second World War, widely celebrated in Russia on May 9.

"As long as the modern society tolerates and encourages the killings of the weak and the helpless, wars on Earth will continue" - said VITA president Irina Novozhilova during the action.

In the middle of the square VITA activists opened the second "memorial" to human foolishness: on a one meter high pedestal a figure of a hunter with animal pelts attached to his costume, and a hunting gun on his back. The text on the pedestal ran: "To a great hero - human - for freeing the Earth from other species". VITA opened the first identical memorial in December 2003 in Moscow.

Animal pelts and carcasses were lying in front of the hunter. Next to the memorial VITA activists spread a huge fabric with the pictures of trapped animals. The text next to the pictures ran: "Hunter! They want to live… as badly as you do!"

Interest in hunting is noticeably growing in present-day Russia. Hunting is viewed as a classy fashionable hobby for the elite. Participants of safari tours kill animals for own entertainment, or to get trophies. Uncountable animals are being hunted across the country for their pelts and meat.

However opposition to hunting is becoming stronger as well in Russia. Media regularly discusses the subject, as animal advocates carry action against trapping and hunting.

VITA action lasted for 1,5 hours and was attended by 20 media representatives. The "memorial", played by a VITA activist, was "removed" after the action.

Design Against Fur

Over 120 students from Russia, the Ukraine, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan submitted their posters to the international Design Against Fur-2004 competition. Fur Free Alliance organises this yearly competition internationally. VITA organises the competition in Russia and other ex-Soviet republics, CETA Life - in the Ukraine.

The names of the competition winners in the European region were announced during the reward ceremony at the Artbank gallery in London on June 14. The winning designs belong to Julianna Kasza from Hungary, Kwint De Meyer from Belgium and Alberto Manelli from Italy.

I've been born to live on Earth,
But my life is nothing worth.
People lock me in a cage.
How have I caused this rage?
They design a trendy coat,
Take my pelt, my life, my hope.
In the age of cruel fashion
Can I plead for your compassion?
People, leave my pelt for me,

Live with mercy, live FUR FREE!

- calls a gorgeous fox on the poster designed by Muscovites Julia Bez and Elena Semenova. Their poster, and submissions of 10 other participants from Russia and ex-Soviet republics were awarded with Alliance's special recognition certificates. Ukrainian-born Oleg Yagolnikov won the USA Design Against Fur competition.

Fur Free Alliance will announce the name of the international winner of the competition in October 2004.


AGAINST ANIMAL EXPERIMENTS



In April 2004 VITA started her activities against animal tests. VITA strives to introduce humane alternatives to animal experiments in education, together with FFVFF and InterNICHE, and carries work in other fields.

New at this year's congress of veterinarians:
vets discuss ethics

On April 22-24 Moscow hosted the yearly international congress of veterinarians. This year VITA drew the attention of the participants to the ethical aspects of their profession, and to the animal rights issues.

On the eve of the congress VITA and ASSOCIATION OF PRACTISING VETERINARIANS organised a press-conference. Participants informed the media of:
- problems and perspectives of the veterinary education
- animal rights issues and veterinary medicine
- the Ketamine problem
- veterinary sanitary expertise, food safety, and other problems.

During the congress of veterinarians VITA's Irina Novozhilova gave talks and made suggestions for improvement in the following fields:
- Ketamine problem
- Humanisation of the veterinary education. Ethical aspects of testing on animals in education.
- Animal rights. The role of vets in animal rights movement.

During the three days of the congress VITA and InterNICHE activists spread literature on alternatives to animal experiments in education at a stand at the entrance to the congress site. Activists consulted students and teachers from various parts of Russia and ex-Soviet republics on alternatives to animal experiments in education.

VITA and InterNICHE activists demonstrated alternatives: models, computer disks, video films, etc, and spread thousands of leaflets, hundreds of magazines and books.

Students should be baptised in animal blood?

On June 5 Animal Liberation Front Russia freed 110 rats and 5 rabbits from the vivarium of the physiology department, biology faculty of the Moscow State University. This is ALF's third action of the kind. The media and the public condemned the action. However not a single media cast fully researched the conditions the animals had been kept in, and the kind of tests they had been subjected to.

VITA believes that the ALF's illegal activities discredit the animal rights movement rather than further it. However VITA also believes the time has come for the public to review its attitude to the problem of animal experimentation in education.

On June 28 VITA held a press-conference on the alternatives to animal experiments in medical research, cosmetics, perfumery and household chemicals, with the emphasis on alternatives to animal experiments in education.

The participants of the press-conference were: VITA director and InterNICHE national contact in Russia Elena Maroueva, VITA president Irina Novozhilova, professor of bioethics of the Moscow State University Anatoliy Lukyanov, Galina Chervonskaya, famous virologist of the Russian Science Academy, and Roman Belousov, student of microbiology of the Moscow State University who consciensciously objects to animal experiments.

During the press-conference humane educator professor Lukyanov quoted one of his opposing colleagues: "What kind of a student is he who hasn't been baptised in blood?"

The participants of the press-conference explained that many animal experiments in education are not only inhumane, but are also totally unnecessary, and should be abolished. Others should be replaced by humane alternatives. Elena Maroueva demonstrated the alternatives from the InterNICHE alternatives library, and gave examples of their successful implementation in many countries.

Journalists saw that student "baptising in blood" is absolutely unnecessary. Moreover the use of humane alternatives furthers the quality of education, and saves money for schools.

STRAY OVERPOPULATION IN MOSCOW:
KILLING VERSUS NEUTERING


In July 2001 Moscow authorities gave green light to the stray sterilisation program as the most effective way of solving the stray overpopulation problem. Obviously with the use of this method it takes time before the problem is resolved completely.

However in June 2004 the head physician of Moscow epidemiological centre N.Filatov wrote a letter to the Moscow mayor Juriy Luzhkov urging him to "review the policy of regulating the number of strays" (read: switch back to killing).

On June 24 VITA reacted with a press-conference, devoted to the problem of stray overpopulation. The participants explained that the sterilisation program is the only effective way of dealing with the problem, but it takes time to complete. VITA gave examples of Belgium and other countries, where the stray sterilisation program produced favourable results.

After the press-conference VITA wrote a letter to the mayor and urged him to pass a bill on stray sterilisation in Moscow. VITA enclosed letters from THE MAYHEW ANIMAL HOME AND HUMANE EDUCATION CENTRE, Great Britain and Olga Kajarskaya, Germany who supported VITA's appeal to Moscow authorities.

In the press-conference participated: VITA's Irina Novozhilova, singer and actress Elena Kamburova, Tatiana Pavlova of Moscow state Fauna department, animal advocate Peter Bryan, writer and journalist Irina Ozyornaya, children surgeon V.Nemsadze, L.Tsvil of the Russian epidemiological centre, and others.

DOG MURDERERS PERSECUTED


In April 2004 two workers killed a dog with a chain saw in the village of Plyussa, Pskov region. The dog was guarding the territory of a warehouse the men illegally entered, and was on a leash. When the dog saw the workers, he started barking loudly. Although the men could easily escape, they killed the dog and left.

The dog guardian lodged a complaint against the dog murderers, but the police and the public prosecutor refused to institute criminal proceedings.

VITA initiated journalist investigations of the incident, which subsequently got media coverage. VITA also appealed to the general public prosecutor to bring the dog murderers to trial. The prosecutor has started criminal proceedings.


MONUMENT TO STRAYS IN MOSCOW


One of thousands strays in Moscow - dog Malchik lived in and near the metro station Mendeleevskaya. Metro employees fed him. In 2001, 21 year old Juliana Romanova stabbed Malchik to death with a kitchen knife. Authorities completely ignored this criminal act.

Irina Ozyornaya of the popular newspaper Izvestiya investigated the case and made a series of publications. Ozyornaya found out that Romanova was from six years old diagnosed with schizophrenia. The girl killed many of the numerous dogs she used to have at home. She also bullied people and threatened to many. However in spite of all the complaints police did not interfere.

After a year of campaigning Ozyornaya managed to bring Romanova to trial. Romanova was acknowledged irresponsible for the criminal act as a result of her illness. The young woman was placed into a mental hospital.

A big group of Russian celebrities (E.Kamburova, Ju.Yakovlev, V.Gaft, L.Kasatkina and others) stepped forward with the initiative to open a monument to Malchik on the site he was killed - in the busy Mendeleyevskaya metro station. With creating the monument Irina Ozyornaya and other initiators of the project protest against cruelty towards living beings, and call to compassion towards stray animals.

Sculptor Alexander Tsigal, animal painter Sergey Tsigal and architect Andrey Nalich are now working on the project. The miniature version of the monument - a figure of Malchik - was presented to the media and public on May 31. VITA took part in the presentation ceremony, and organised the coverage of the event in the media.


FAMOUS VEGETARIAN WITH A CONCERT IN RUSSIA


VITA activists called to 30 thousand visitors of Paul McCartney's concert in St.Petersburg to go veggie. The concert took place on June 20 on the central Dvortsovaya square. VITA activists held an informational stand at the busy concert site, and gave out thousands of PETA and VITA leaflets on vegetarianism. The action was organised in cooperation with PETA.

PUBLICATIONS ON ANIMAL RIGHTS


In April-June 2004 VITA published or assisted in creating over 40 media casts on animal rights.



Dear VITA friend,

Thank you for reading this newsletter.

Please help VITA to go on with our Ketamine campaign and other animal protection work. Every donation, no matter how moderate it may be, will help us alleviate animal suffering.

Please don't send cheques - foreign cheques are very expensive to cash in Russia, but other donation means are very welcome (money transference to VITA's bank account, or via Western Union). THANK YOU!

VITA's bank account number is: 40703978400090001768
For the Center for the protection of animal rights "VITA" 115191 Moscow, Mytnaya 62-93
VITA's bank is RESTAVRATSIYASTROYBANK, MOSCOW, RUSSIA, CHIPS: 40715
SWIFT: RESVRUMI, Communication: 912899421121


PLEASE FORWARD THIS NEWSLETTER TO THOSE WHO YOU THINK MIGHT ALSO BE INTERESTED TO READ IT.


I would be glad to hear from you and learn what you think about VITA's activities throughout the last three months, and this newsletter. Please write me at: maroueva-reijngoudt.vita@bluewin.ch

Tanya Maroueva,
author of this newsletter,
VITA public relations manager


If you don't wish to receive VITA's newsletters any more, mail "unsubscribe" to: maroueva-reijngoudt.vita@bluewin.ch

If you are not on VITA's mailing list yet, but you would like to receive our free electronic quarterly newsletter, please mail your e-mail address to:
maroueva-reijngoudt.vita@bluewin.ch


For additional information please contact VITA at:

e-mail: maroueva-reijngoudt.vita@bluewin.ch
or: vita-russia@yandex.ru
address:
VITA, attn. Elena Maroueva
Russia 115191
Moscow
Mytnaya str 62-93

THANK YOU



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