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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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