Animal rights news from Russia
The Newsletter of the Animal Rights Centre VITA
No. 2 / 2008
In this issue:
On April 24, International Day for Laboratory Animals,
another Russian University Rejects Animal Experiments
An agreement to terminate animal experiments
between InterNICHE (www.interniche.org)
and Tumenskiy State University (the Department of Zoology and Ichthyology)
was signed on April 24th.
According to this document, InterNICHE provides the university
with computer programs on zoology which will replace animal dissection
and animal experiments. The project saves the lives of 32 pigeons,
65 mice, 32 frogs and 65 fish annually.
Tumenskiy State University has became the eighth Russian institute
of higher education which has signed an agreement with InterNICHE
to terminate animal experiments.
VITA is Not Giving Up on the Law Against Animal
Every day VITA receives dozens of complaints
from Russian people about cruel treatment of animals: photo businesses
with animals, culling of stray dogs, dying animals in travelling
circuses and zoos, forcing students to take part in cruel animal
experiments and so on and so forth. Due to the absence of any sound
animal protection legislation, VITA is trying to resolve the existing
situation by attracting the attention of the media, politicians,
celebrities and the like. 'However, in the majority of cases we
are bound hand and foot and this will be the situation until Russia
has adopted a Federal law "On the protection of animals from
cruelty".' - says Konstantin Sabinin, VITA's Project Manager,
- 'But regrettably, on 21 March 2008, the draft law, for the outcome
of which thousands of Russian people had been fighting for 8 (!)
years, was completely excluded from consideration by the State Duma
of the Russian Federation.'
In March 2008 Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made a speech about
supporting new legislative initiatives and about the participation
of the Social Affairs Chamber in this activity. Using this favourable
turn of events VITA, other animal welfare organisations and Russian
celebrities sent an appeal to the Head of the Social Affairs Chamber,
E. Velikhov, asking for a team to be appointed to renew work on
the draft law. On March 8, a press release with the text of the
appeal was sent to the Russian media, which initiated a number of
publications about the need to adopt legislation on animal protection.
On April 15, at the Independent Press-Centre, VITA held a press
conference under the title 'What are the consequences of the vacuum
in animal protection legislation in Russia?' Among the participants
in the press conference were VITA's managers, famous Russian singer
Andrey Makarevich, lawyer Evgeny Chernousov, who explained the necessity
of adopting the law as a document reflecting Russia's policy in
this sphere, and criminal psychologist Sergey Enikolopov, who demonstrated
the connection between cruelty towards animals and cruelty towards
'New publications in the press and coverage of the subject on TV
seem to have had an effect' - says Konstantin Sabinin, - 'At present
the State Duma is considering the issue of forming a new team to
renew the work on the draft law on animal protection from cruelty,
which will include VITA.'
VITA is very grateful to the WSPA for financing this campaign.
We also thank Rachel Smith for help in this and other VITA projects.
Top Models and Actors Urge a Ban of the Slaughter
of Baby Seals
On April 14th VITA appealed to top Russian and foreign models to
join the campaign against baby seal slaughter in the Archangel region.
"We are the people who work in the fashion industry and are
directly connected to it, however, we understand that the beauty
of clothing should not be based on the suffering and killing of
helpless animals," says the petition addressed to the Head
of Russian Fisheries, Andrey Krainy. The petition was signed by
129 professional models - stars of Russian and World Fashion catwalks
and by the winner of the beauty competition 'Miss Russia 2005',
On April 24th VITA appealed to Moscow's Pushkin Drama Theatre to
sign an appeal to Russian President Medvedev to stop seal hunting
in Russia. 72 employees of the theatre among which there are famous
Russian actors have signed the petition.
VITA has made two press-releases on the basis of the petitions which
got wide coverage in the media.
VITA has won an award for commitment to animal
On the 3d of June VITA was presented with
the Marsh International Animal Welfare Award, established by Marsh
Christian Trust (www.marshchristiantrust.org).
The World Society for the Protection of Animals (www.wspa-international.org)
had nominated VITA for the award for its outstanding contribution
to animal protection. The ceremony took place in the Royal Geographical
Society during the WSPA biennial meeting in London. Prize money
(1000 GBP), a diploma and a glass paperweight were given to Elena
Maroueva, VITA director, who represented the organization at the
award ceremony. "We are really touched to be given such an
honour" - said Elena Maroueva. - "The Award will certainly
give us additional force to continue the work for animal protection."
VITA Has Published a Unique Historic Document on
the Cruelty of Science in the Early 20th Century
Continuing the archive research work on
materials related to animal protection, VITA has found a unique
brochure - "Cruelty in Modern Science", published in 1901
by Sytin's printing firm in Moscow. After the old Russian text had
been corrected, the brochure appeared on VITA website (www.vita.org.ru)
The author of the brochure, S.K., who chose to remain incognito,
described numerous animal experiments practiced in science and research
institutes of that time. These experiments, shocking in their extreme
cruelty, had absolutely no value or scientific grounds. The author
emphasized the fact that the torture of these laboratory animals
was carried out without any anesthesia. " And yet, a century
later the situation with laboratory animals in our country has barely
changed," says VITA's president, Irina Novozhilova, - In Russia
there is no law that sets restrictions on the actions of experimenters,
and many animal experiments are carried out with either no or insufficient
"Design Against Fur" Contest Winners Announced
On May 12th VITA and the Fur Free Alliance
announced the results of the Design Against Fur 2008 contest for
Russia and countries of the former USSR.
The judges - Russian celebrities who speak up against fur - combed
through more than 500 wonderful works to choose the three best entries.
The winners each received cash awards and honorary certificates,
and their works will now be appraised by European judges. They will
get a chance to win the grand prize - $2,500.
Additionally, 25 contestants will receive Special Judges Recognition
or honorable mention certificates from VITA and the Fur Free Alliance.
The Head of the Russian Department of WWF Has Been
Put in the 'Black Book' of Hunters
Russian animal protection organisations
have long been concerned about the incongruous positions of some
other organisations regarding animal welfare issues, namely WWF.
As an example, WWF's Russian office has announced through the media
that it is necessary to allow licensed commercial hunting of endangered
species, as they believe that rare and disappearing species should
themselves 'earn' the money for their own protection.
On April 21, the International Social and Ecological Union (ISEU),
Kiev's Ecological and Cultural Centre (KECC) and VITA expressed
their protest in the press and the Internet against this WWF 'solution'
to the problem, which, according to the ISEU Committee Co-chairman
Valery Brinikh, 'discredits the whole wildlife conservation community
in the eyes of the public'.
The head of WWF Russian office, Igor Chestin, was put in the 'Black
Book' of hunters, created by KECC and VITA, which contains the names
of politicians, high level businessmen and other well-known Russians
who have become notorious for their passion of hunting. (russian
There must be no return to killing! - VITA's campaign
to protect homeless animals
Russians to-day are depressed by the current
situation with regard to homeless animals, which can be described
as critical. Unfortunately, in every city and town in Russia, apart
from Moscow and St Petersburg, we see a continuation of the practice
of killing dogs and cats made homeless by human beings. The killing
of these animals often takes place in the presence of people who
love them, pensioners and children, which means that both animals
and people suffer.
And even in Moscow, which has been an exemplar for other towns
because for the last six years the killing of pets has been forbidden
in the capital, there have been ever more frequent cases of animals
vanishing without trace, despite their owners going to the "holding
stations" within hours of their disappearance.
VITA considers that the main reason for this unhappy situation
of stray animals lies in Russia's failure to place state controls
on animal breeding. In this country there is no legislation to limit
breeding. Many Russians still do not neuter their pets, wrongly
supposing that pets must be allowed for their own well-being to
The other powerful stream of unwanted animals is caused by those
who breed animals as a business (dealers). Since the beginning of
the 1990s the breeding business has been booming since it is highly
profitable and is not subject to taxes or any form of state regulation.
Unfortunately, the situation is made even worse by the mistaken
strategy of government bureaucrats, who conduct an endless war against
the consequences of uncontrolled breeding but do nothing to tackle
the causes of the problem. Thus the Moscow city government has allocated
900 million roubles (!) to build seventeen gigantic shelters for
two, three or five thousand animals, which is completely pointless
if breeding is allowed to continue unrestricted. What is more, to
have so many animals crammed into one place in these mega-shelters
is just asking for disease epidemics that would turn the "shelters"
into death factories.
Russian animal welfare organisations believe that the only remedy
for this dire situation is a state tax on the breeding of animals
(pets), accompanied by campaigns to popularise spaying and neutering
of pets and to encourage people to acquire pets from animal shelters.
In fact, measures to restrict pet-breeding were included in the
text of the Federal law "On the protection of animals from
cruelty" which was, unfortunately, rejected by President Putin
In June 2008 when feelings about the treatment of homeless animals
were running high among the populace VITA organised three events
to highlight the problem of strays. Since the campaign attracted
the support of Russian super-stars all the events gained wide coverage
in the media:
A VITA press-conference with the title, "Homeless animals:
how to solve the problem without re-inventing the wheel"
The participants included celebrities Yurii Antonov, Laima Vaikule,
Aleksei Serebryakov as well as VITA and the head of the "Centre"
A round-table discussion on "Man and animals"The
discussion took place at the University of the Russian Academy of
Education in Moscow on 18 June 2008; participants included representatives
of the Social Affairs Chamber of the Russian Federation, state departments,
famous figures from the worlds of culture and education, and animal
protection societies. The participants discussed the problem of
stray animals in Moscow and Russia and the urgent need for the Federal
law "On the protection of animals from cruelty" to be
passed. The participants included Elena Kamburova, singer, People's
Artist of Russia; Mikhail Berulava, deputy chairman of the Social
Affairs Chamber commission on ecology and environmental protection;
Liudmila Kasatkina, People's Artist; Andrei Makarevich, People's
Artist; Nikolai Nikandrov, president of the Russian Academy of Education;
Aleksandr Tsigal, sculptor, member of the Russian Academy of Fine
Arts; Irina Novozhilova, VITA president; Viktor Shudegov, Deputy
of the State Duma of the Russian Federation.
The animal protectionists and public figures sent a letter to Russian
President Dmitrii Medvedev, asking him to take action to pass the
law for the humane treatment of animals.
Demonstration for the defence of homeless animals under the
slogan "No return to killing!"
At 12 noon on 26 June a demo took place in Novopushkinskii Square
to protest against attempts by Moscow officials to return to the
practice of killing homeless animals. The demonstrators held banners
demanding "No return to killing!" and showed on a computer
screen how dogs were caught -- in a manner contrary to the humane
sterilisation programme the city authorities had declared they would
implement. The organiser of this event was VITA, in collaboration
with other Russian animal protection organisations. Several Russian
celebrities took part for the first time in a public demonstration
of this kind: Andrei Makarevich, Yurii Antonov, Aleksandr Gradskii,
Elena Kamburova, Elena Papanova, the "Stsenokardiya" group,
the lawyer Evgenii Chernousov and other famous figures from the
world of culture, as well as public figures.
More than 300 people who had taken part in the demo signed a petition
calling on the authorities to end the killing.
The Prisoners of the Animal Theatre 'Kashtanka' are
Even the most inventive science fiction
writer's mind would not have come up with the idea of a live animal
'museum', where visitors are offered the chance to "see 150
species of animals for just 15 Roubles (half euro)" in a tiny
room of only 32 sq meters. Foxes, monkeys, snakes, raccoons, chinchillas,
pigs, rabbits, otters, minks, roosters, tortoises and many other
animals were crammed in tiny cages barely bigger than the size of
their own bodies. Animals that died were easily replaced with live
For the past several years, animal welfare organizations have been
receiving complaints from the public about the horrific conditions
in which the animals were kept in the 'Kashtanka' Animal Theatre
located in the grounds of the 'Malysh' children's park in Odintsovo
(Moscow region). The 90-year-old owner of the theatre, having an
obstinate disposition, has been stubbornly refusing requests to
find a place with better conditions for the animals (in Russia there
is no law under which animals could be confiscated and the guilty
charged with cruelty to the animals).
However, in April 2008, thanks to the joint efforts of activists
of animal welfare organisations 'Bim', VITA and 'Dog & Cat',
the situation was finally resolved. Among the actions taken to rescue
the animals were the involvement of the press, negotiations with
the management of the 'Malysh' Park, an appeal to the public prosecutor's
office, calling on inspectors from the Veterinary and Sanitary and
Epidemiological Services, an appeal to the mayor of Odintsovo and
to the Governor of Moscow region. Finally, permission to relocate
the animals was issued and on April 28 the victims of human selfishness
moved to their new spacious open-air cages at the 'Bim' charity
shelter near Moscow.
VITA and InterNICHE Promote Alternatives to Animal Experiments Among
From April 26-28th VITA took part in the
16th World Veterinary Congress held in the Moscow concert complex
"Izmaylovo". For three days, hundreds of representatives
of the congress - veterinarians, teachers and students had the opportunity
to learn about alternatives to animal experiments that were presented
at the InterNICHE and VITA stand. This year, alternatives - the
veterinary clinical skills training manikin "Critical Care
Jerry", various plastic models, videos, software and, for the
first time, a P.O.P. trainer, unique surgery simulator, were presented.
The POP trainer allows training in dissection and various operations
and uses a pump to simulate blood circulation and perfusion. An
ethically sourced animal organ is put inside the device and then
perfused with coloured water. This trainer, which allows trainees
to perform live surgery without harming animals, impressed even
the most skeptical of the congress participants. "The congress
is an important event for us because it is here where we make new
contacts which often lead to the introduction of humane alternatives
in Russian universities" - said Elena Maroueva, VITA director
and InterNICHE National Contact for Russia.
Russian Physiologists and Pharmacologists Learn About Humane
Methods of Teaching
On May 21st Elena Maroueva took part in
the First International Conference of Veterinary Pharmacologists,
held in St. Petersburg. The conference was held in the St. Petersburg
State Academy of Veterinary Medicine, one of the first Russian educational
institutions to have introduced alternatives to animal experiments,
back in October 2005. Elena Maroueva gave a talk on modern humane
methods of teaching.
The Siberian Congress of Physiologists took place from June 25
- 27th in Barnaul. Olga Kononchuk from InterNICHE-Siberia and the
Kemerovo branch of VITA attended this event. The Congress included
17 symposia on different physiological themes conducted by famous
Russian physiologists. Olga Kononchuk negotiated with different
teachers, discussing the possibility of introducing alternative
methods in their universities. Her report "Humane education
of life science specialists" was published in the Congress
VITA supported an international campaign on the protection of
On 6 May 2008 VITA began to protect Australian
kangaroos, who are being ruthlessly destroyed for their skins and
meat. Russia is one of the biggest consumers of kangaroo meat. It
is used for making different sorts of meat food, sausages most of
all. Kangaroo meat is cooked in the Russian restaurants which offer
dishes of Australian cuisine. A chain of Russian shops sells shoes
and clothes made of kangaroo skin.
To mark the start of the campaign VITA has sent a letter to the
Australian ambassador in Russia, M. Leslie Adrian Row, to ask for
his support in the campaign. Video
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 Sheelagh Graham, Margarita Williams and Elizaveta
Komarova for translating and editing this newsletter.
If you are not on VITA's mailing list yet but would like to
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Elena Maroueva, Irina Novozilova
On behalf of VITA
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