ONE YEAR SUSPENDED SENTENCE FOR A MOSCOW VET.
HIS "CRIME": ANAESTHIZING AN ANIMAL
VICTORY: CHARGES DROPPED
AGAINST MOST OTHER VETS
Read animal rights news from Russia in
The newsletter of the Russian animal rights centre VITA
3, 2004 (July, August, September)
Welcome! In this issue:
- Ketamine crisis
- Russians discuss ethics of experimenting on animals
- Russian pop-star with a new video revealing animal maltreatment
- Other news
IS ANAESTHIZING AN ANIMAL BEFORE AN OPERATION
It is. In Russia.
On September 15 Zamoskvoretskiy regional court in Moscow sentenced
the vet Alexander Duka to one year probation for "committing a socially
dangerous deed", as the state prosecutor put it. "The deed" was…
using the medical drug Ketamine to anaesthize a dog before an operation.
The drug is illegal for Russian vets. However Ketamine is freely
available for vets all over the world to use in combination with
other drugs as anaesthetics.
From 1998 the drug remains officially forbidden for Russian vets,
as a result of a scandalous mistake of the Ministry of Agriculture.
In autumn 2003 Russian Drug Enforcement Committee (DEC) started
prosecuting vets for the use of Ketamine. However studies show,
that there is no qualitative alternative to the drug in Russia.
Any veterinary surgeon in the country has to use Ketamine to hold
a painless operation.
The Committee brought 21 vets to justice for using Ketamine. In
May-June 2004 Moscow district courts acquitted three tried vets.
The fourth vet - Alexander Duka - got one year suspended. His crime
was bringing 2.3 grams of Ketamine along when called for an operation
on a dog. It turned out the Drug Enforcement Agency arranged this
call to be able to search the unaware vet.
Duka and his two lawyers appealed to Mosgorsud - Moscow highest
judicial body to review the court's decision.
A.Duka has called VITA president Irina Novozhilova and thanked VITA
for her campaign to drop charges against prosecuted vets, and to
legalise Ketamine for animals. It's us who want to thank YOU, Mr.Duka,
for your firmness and courage throughout the months of the trial,
probably the hardest months in your life.
Why? Who needs this human and animal suffering?
Drug Enforcement Agency, who needs to justify its mere existence,
and demonstrate "results" of its work. DEA receives much criticism
for not dealing enough with organised crime, but turning to easy
targets such as vets.
DEA suspected that vets illegally sell Ketamine to drug dealers
or drug addicts. So far investigation results haven't revealed a
single case when this has happened.
Anyhow, is Ketamine indeed so popular among drug addicts in Russia?
How strong a drug is it?
"Ketamine has low value for real drug addicts, - said director of
medical programmes of the Russian fund NO TO DRUGS AND ALCOHOLISM,
drug expert Sergey Polyatikin in the interview to NOVIYE IZVESTIYA
on August 31. - Drug addicts use Ketamine for a very short period,
as it becomes ineffective as a drug very quickly. Even large doses
don't help. Inexperienced beginners might try Ketamine. However
drug addicts would never use Ketamine, as it just doesn't work for
With this knowledge, DEA still continued vet prosecutions. Harassed
vets around the whole country don't operate at all, or… some operate
without anaesthetics. Immobilised animals often die from pain shock.
A.Duka got one year probation. This is bad news. However when we
think that the court could give Duka a sentence of 7 to 15 years
imprisonment, the news doesn't seem that shocking. But the sheer
fact that a vet is punished actually for anaesthising an animal
prior to an operation is scandalous and totally ridiculous, isn't
Under the pressure from animal advocates and vets on the one side,
and the Drug Enforcement Agency on the other, the court chose for
a compromise. The court found A.Duka guilty, but he gets no factual
imprisonment, or fines.
VICTORY: CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST 16 OUT OF 17 TRIED VETS…
VITA celebrates. After Duka's trial all the charges against 15 other
tried vets have been dropped.
"I feel extremely guilty for the awful mistake I've made. - said
the head of DEA Victor Cherkesov unexpectedly at a September press-conference.
- DEA carried its work in the wrong sequence. First the Ministries
needed to make it legally possible for vets to use Ketamine. Only
afterwards should we have prosecuted vets in case of illegal actions."
Great, Mr. Cherkesov, but too late for many animals - says VITA.
Only one vet, Olga Tanayeva is still under trial. VITA will keep
the fight for Tanayeva's acquittal. Charges against other vets have
been dismissed. This is very important news. Harassed vets across
the country can now take a deep breath.
… BUT NO KETAMINE FOR ANIMALS
In January 2004 the Ministry of Agriculture said it now allowed
vets to use Ketamine. A nice, but meaningless gesture without the
Government resolution on the official conditions under which the
drug may be used. Without the resolution in reality Ketamine stays
illegal. The Government resolution came only in September.
Authorities celebrate - they believe the resolution has brought
the long lasting Ketamine scandal to an end.
VITA says the new resolution is nothing but a show
In reality Ketamine remains inaccessible for vets. Why?
? The regulation obliges vets to get official licenses to be able
to work with Ketamine and other drugs. Vets still don't get any
? More bureaucracy is to come: The regulation is not valid until
the Ministry of Agriculture in its turn defines the rules of "distribution,
registration and disposal of Ketamine", and clarifies the licensing
procedure. It might take months before the Ministry releases the
? The regulation defines the procedure of storing and using the
drug. The ruling is so complicated and expensive to implement that
many vets can't abide by the regulation. Many say they will have
to close their clinics.
For example, clinics now have to use a safe with alarm signalisation
to keep medical drugs. The safe should be installed in a "specially
equipped room". Read: in a protected space with a massive metal
door. Now imagine a poor village clinic that strives to make both
ends meet survive in these new expensive conditions?
Animals die, red tape continues.
From December 2003 VITA has held numerous actions and press-conferences,
and lobbied the government to stop prosecutions of vets and legalise
Ketamine for the animals. Several human rights organisations, animal
charities, celebrities, as well as students and vets attended VITA
actions as well.
Throughout the last three months VITA has continued her campaign.
On August 10 and 24, September 1, 13 and 15 - the dates of hearings
of Alexander Duka's case - VITA activists held actions in front
of the Zamoskvoretskiy regional court.
VITA urged the state to drop charges against Alexander Duka and
other tried vets, and to fully legalise Ketamine. On August 18 VITA
took part in a press-conference devoted to the Ketamine crises.
Animal advocates in the USA and Israel carried demonstrations in
front of the Russian embassies in their countries. Thanks, friends.
Car run in the centre of Moscow
A column of cars decorated with fabrics with slogans "Return anaesthetics
to animals!", "Stop prosecutions of vets!" raided Moscow centre
on August 9.
Participants were VITA activists, vets, and caring animal guardians.
The car column made stops near the Ministry of Agriculture, Drug
Enforcement Agency, and other institutions responsible for the Ketamine
scandal. During the stops activists protested against authorities'
actions by continuously pushing their car horns.
The car column made a long stop at the Slavyanskaya square, where
animal advocates held an action. Activists released in the sky tens
of balloons in the form of animals, to commemorate the animals who
have died since the beginning of the Ketamine crisis.
The car run and the action were organised by VITA and the veterinary
clinic BON PET.
Many journalists attended all VITA actions. Numerous radio- and
television programmes and newspaper articles attracted the attention
of politicians, celebrities and general public to the problem.
Blue ribbons on cars - a token of solidarity with vets
On August 11 and 12 VITA appealed to Russian citizens via four popular
radio stations to attach blue ribbons to their cars to show solidarity
with the prosecuted vets. Blue ribbon stood for the blue cross -
the symbol of veterinary medicine. Thus thousands of Russians took
part in the action and demonstrated solidarity with the vets.
The Russian president and head of government still receive letters
of protest from concerned citizens and organisations from Russia
and abroad. Mr. Putin and Mr. Fradkov are receiving hundreds of
letters from Belgium at this moment, after Belgian animal rights
organisation GAIA once again appealed to her members to protest.
Thank you, GAIA!
VITA will continue her pressure to legalise Ketamine for the animals.
Read more news in the next issue of VITA newsletter.
ALTERNATIVES TO ANIMAL EXPERIMENTS
Throughout the last three months VITA and InterNICHE continued their
work to promote humane alternatives to animal experiments.
First talk show on alternatives to animal experiments
on the leading Russian TV channel
On September 16 the leading Russian TV channel ORT transmitted the
talk show "They are alive!", devoted to the problems of animal experimentation
and humane alternatives to animal tests.
The programme opened with the footage probably never shown on the
Russian television before: a cat with electrodes implanted in her
brain; a small ape with sewn up eyes; rabbits undergoing the Dreiser
test. People from all around Russia had a chance to witness and
realize the truth behind animal testing.
The main hero of the show was Roman Belousov, a student of the Moscow
State University. Roman explained why he conscientiously objects
to animal experiments, and refuses to carry them in the course of
Lena Maroueva and Irina Novozhilova of VITA and the Russian InterNICHE
group dwelled on the existing humane alternatives to animal experiments
in education, science, perfumery testing, etc.
A Moscow scientist and a professor of bioethics, an animal rights
lawyer, and three celebrities backed the pro-animal rights position,
and explained why compassion counts.
Professors of the Moscow State University, scientists and a female
Russian/French bullfighter opposed to animal advocates. However
they often seemed unable to retort to the arguments of animal advocates.
The programme appeared as a result of VITA/InterNICHE press-conference
on alternatives to animal experiments held on June 28, 2004. After
the press-conference TV channel ORT got interested in the problem,
and decided to create a programme on alternatives to animal experiments.
VITA and the Russian InterNICHE co-organised the talk show. The
groups supplied the programme managers with the video footage, found
the pro-animal rights heroes of the programme, experts in alternatives
to animal experiments, etc.
Why the programme is important
Most Russians know nothing about the cruelty of animal testing,
and the humane alternatives. People should learn more about the
problem. Only then will they become motivated to go for a change.
Direct mail to schools
Continuing the 2003 direct mail campaign, in July - September 2004
VITA and InterNICHE Russia sent around 100 letters to schools of
biology, veterinary and human medicine in Russia and ex-Soviet republics.
Schools are offered to try out humane alternatives to animal experiments
from the InterNICHE alternatives library in Russia.
As a result three schools are trying out alternatives at this moment.
The idea is that the schools later replace animal tests with these
A new guide for conscientious objectors
Students, professors and animal advocates who conscientiously object
to animal experiments in education but are not sure about the alternative
possibilities, now have a clue. Russian InterNICHE team and VITA
have produced a booklet "Are animal experiments in education justified?"
that will answer many of such questions.
The booklet is in Russian. It tells the stories of Russian and overseas
students of biology, veterinary and human science. These students
study without carrying out any animal experiments. Students share
how they convinced their professors to allow them use alternative
methods, how they simply avoided animal experiments, or used other
approaches to humanize their education process.
The booklet also includes an article of a scholar and a professor
of Kiyv National State university who successfully introduced humane
alternatives to animal experiments at his university.
Russian InterNICHE group and VITA will offer the booklet to conscientious
objectors to animal experiments in education in Russia and ex-Soviet
VITA and the Russian InterNICHE team cordially thank IAAPEA for
funding a part this project. VITA also thanks FFVFF for sponsoring
her various activities against animal experimentation.
ANIMAL RIGHTS MEETING IN SOCHI
Animal advocates from Rostov-na-Donu, Sochi and Moscow, including
four VITA activists met in Sochi from July 1 to 15. Activists discussed
their plans and campaigns, shared experience, exchanged materials
Sochi is a very popular tourist destination. Tens of photographers
with exotic animals try to entertain unaware tourists, and offer
to make a photo with an animal for just 50 roubles (US$ 1.7)
Animal advocates held actions against this atrocious business, and
gave out leaflets to tourists. Leaflets explained the cruelty of
the business. As a result of these actions, photographers had only
few clients on the days of the actions.
Outraged photographers threatened to animal advocates, assaulted
a female activist, and broke another activist's camera.
Animal advocates lodged a complaint at the local police station.
Photographers immediately apologized and reimbursed the cost of
Animal advocates also held a peaceful action near the local dolphinarium,
and gave out leaflets against fishing and animal testing.
POPULAR SINGER REVEALS ANIMAL MALTREATMENT
Russian pop star Ekaterina Razumovskaya created a new video that
reveals truth about fur trade, meat production, the ecological state
of our planet, etc.
The footage in the new video "Hart stop" changes swiftly: the eyes
of a trapped fur-bearing animal, a cow in a slaughter house, then
a hamburger, bullfight, polluted rivers, crashing plane… Razumovskaya's
idea was to make people think about what they are doing to each
other, animals, our planet. And the young popular singer perfectly
succeeded in this task. Congratulations, Ekaterina!
VITA, GREENPEACE, and other organisations worked together with Razumovskaya's
administration team to select the best footage for this truly impressive
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