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ONE YEAR SUSPENDED SENTENCE FOR A MOSCOW VET.
HIS "CRIME": ANAESTHIZING AN ANIMAL
DURING OPERATION

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
A CRIME?...


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 them."

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 it?

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 licenses.

? 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 document.

? 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.


Large-scale protests


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.

Written protests

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 his studies.

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 alternatives.


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 republics.

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 and publications.

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 the camera.

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 video.

Dear VITA friend,
Thank you for reading this newsletter.
Please help VITA to go on with her 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 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: RESTAVRATSIYASTROYBANK
MOSCOW, IN FAVOR

OF Center for the protection of animal rights "VITA"
ACC. 40703978400090001768


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
For additional information please contact VITA at:
e-mail: maroueva-reijngoudt.vita@bluewin.ch
or: vita-russia@yandex.ru
tel: 007 (0)95 954 92 79
address:
VITA, attn. Elena Maroueva
Russia 115191
Moscow
Mytnaya str 62-93

THANK YOU



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