LIFE - TO HIM,
FUR-COAT - TO YOU?
Read animal rights news from Russia in
The newsletter of the Russian Animal Rights Centre VITA
4, 2004 (October, November, December)
Welcome! In this issue:
- LIFE - TO HIM, OR FUR COAT - TO YOU? Anti-fur campaign in the
- VITA vegan and animal rights feasts
- Will biology student Belousov study without animal experiments?
- Ketamine scandal
- VITA against animal maltreatment in art
- Starving zoo animals rescued
- Other news
ANTI-FUR CAMPAIGN IN THE MOSCOW METRO
"Life -to him, or fur coat - to you?" - 150 posters in the carriages
of the Moscow metro daily put this question to thousands of Muscovites
and Russian speaking tourists. On a black-and-white photo a hunter
crushes the body of a trapped koyote with his heavy boots. 30 X
40 cm poster-stickers ask people to make a choice: life - to the
koyote, or a fur-coat - to them.
The action is a joint campaign of the Russian Animal Rights Centre
VITA and RESPECT FOR ANIMALS, the UK's leading anti-fur organisation.
The organisations placed their poster-stickers on the Kaluzhsko-Rizhskaya
metro line, well-known for the abundance of fur boutiques around
Posters are hanging in the metro throughout the whole month of December
- busy Christmas and New Year shopping time. Underground is Muscovites'
favourite kind of transport, practical and quick. This is why metro
carriages are mostly overcrowded, even in the evenings and at the
weekends. Anti-fur poster-stickers are hanging near the doors of
the carriages, and are very well visible to everyone. Thus tens
of thousands now have a chance to think about the plight of fur-bearing
RESPECT FOR ANIMALS and VITA officially launched their anti-fur
campaign in the Moscow metro on November 26 - the internationally
celebrated Fur Free Friday. Animal activists around the world have
been celebrating Fur Free Friday since 1986. Animal advocates hold
demonstrations and spread leaflets to encourage people to refrain
from wearing fur, leather and suede. Fur Free Friday takes place
the day after Thanksgiving in the USA.
On November 26 VITA and RESPECT FOR ANIMALS informed the media of
their coming metro poster campaign. Media reaction to the project
was exceptionally positive. Moscow and national newspapers quoted
facts on cruelties of fur trade and production from our press-releases.
Not a single critical article was spotted. Thus thousands more people
got a chance to review their attitude towards fur wearing by reading
articles on fur production, and on the metro poster campaign.
Although fur is considered to be the traditional winter clothing
for Russians, some Russians reject fur, including the celebrities
singer L. Vaikule, writer Gr.Gladkov and A. Troitskiy. "I think
that to use the cold weather as an excuse for wearing fur is deceitful.
The true reasons behind buying fur coats are luxury, prestige and
sex" says A. Troitskiy.
Practically all the reactions to the posters VITA and RESPECT FOR
ANIMALS get are utterly positive. People say they sympathize with
fur-bearing animals, and ask for more information.
"I am sure one day Russians will reject furs completely, as fur
production is always associated with causing pain and suffering
to millions of animals" - says VITA director Elena Maroueva.
Our readers might want to know however that nowadays the vast majority
of Russians unfortunately still adore furs. And there are years
of hard work ahead to change that.
Nicki Brooks, director of RESPECT FOR ANIMALS says "We are proud
and pleased to be involved in this campaign with VITA to promote
the anti-fur message to a new audience who perhaps are unaware of
the brutal truth behind the fur trade's glamorous veneer".
VITA thanks RESPECT FOR ANIMALS for all their help and the wonderful
work together while realising the project. VITA and RESPECT FOR
ANIMALS thank the Moscow metro for providing us with a 60 per cent
discount for placing the posters.
VITA VEGAN FEAST
On November 1, the World Vegan Day VITA held a vegan feast at the
Moscow vegetarian restaurant AVOCADO. The purpose of organising
the feast was to share with the general public why the vegan diet
is healthy, and animal- and environment-friendly. To bring the message
to the public VITA invited media to the event.
During the feast the guests relished delicious vegan snacks prepared
by the AVOCADO staff. Vegan author Irina Ozernaya proposed a wonderful
toast for a kinder world. Painter Ilona Gonsovskaya shared with
the journalists why she is vegan, and called to people to go for
the cruelty-free lifestyle. Mrs. Gonsovskaya appeared at the feast
in a warm furry cap with a huge symbolic label "fake fur" attached
VITA activists demonstrated films on the world vegan and vegetarian
movements, and showed footage on the conditions in modern slaughterhouses.
Animal advocates decorated the feast site with animal rights posters.
VITA activists gave out leaflets and other printed materials on
veganism and vegetarianism. The feast lasted for three hours.
The event was covered in Moscow regional news, in the news of the
Russian national channel REN-TV, and in the written media. Thus
the general public could learn the previously unheard of notion
of "veganism", and what it is about.
NOTE: Vegan diet excludes the consumption of any animal products,
such as meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey, gelatine, etc. Vegans don't
wear wool, fur or leather, and use animal tests free perfumery and
VITA thanks the vegetarian restaurant AVOCADO for their fantastic
WILL BIOLOGY STUDENT BELOUSOV STUDY
WITHOUT ANIMAL EXPERIMENTS?
Roman Belousov is a second year biology student of the Moscow State
University (MSU). Roman consciensciously objects to animal experiments,
and together with VITA and InterNICHE Russia promotes the ideas
of humane education. The student appealed to the rector of the university
mr. Sadovnichiy to allow him not to take part in animal experiments,
and to provide him with humane alternatives.
To back Roman's conscientious protest in October 2004 VITA and the
Russian InterNICHE team organised a mailing campaign to MSU. As
a result Sadovnichiy received numerous e-mails and faxes from Russia
and overseas, where you, friends, explained why animal experiments
are inhumane, and discussed existing alternatives.
The rector passed your messages on to the dean of the MSU biology
department. Impressed by the amount of e-mails and faxes, the dean
gave Roman to understand that he doesn't have to take part in animal
experiments. The dean couldn't give a completely clear answer though
on the prospects of Roman's studies, neither did he offer the student
any alternatives to animal experiments. Note that VITA and InterNICHE
Russia offered MSU to test alternatives for free on a number of
occasions, but got no response.
Now Roman simply skips the practical classes with animal experiments,
and insists on the use of alternatives. Roman has decided to start
legal proceedings against MSU in case the university obliges him
to take part in animal experiments in future.
At the dean's request in his 2005 yearly end work Roman will discuss
alternatives to animal experiments.
VITA and InterNICHE Russia thank all of you who wrote e-mails and
faxes to MSU. Every single voice counted!
MURDER AS A PART OF MODERN ART
In October and November 2004 popular Moscow art gallery "Aidan"
hosted an exhibition of photo works by a Ukrainian-Swedish "artist"
Nathalia Edenmont. Edenmont is well-known in animal rights circles
around the world for her atrocious working methods. She creates
"still-life" photographs with body parts of cats, rabbits, rats,
and other animals. "The artist" kills the animals herself.
VITA sent an appeal to the Moscow mayor Juri Luzhkov to forbid the
exhibitions of "art works" whose creation implies afflicting pain
and suffering to any living being. The appeal was signed by Russian
celebrities and animal advocates.
VITA also widely informed the media of Edenmont's atrocities towards
animals. VITA organised TV- and radio programmes on the subject.
As a result media coverage of the exhibition was utterly negative.
VITA's message is clear - you are not welcome in Russia, mrs. Edenmont.
Halt the animal maltreatment!
GORGEOUS FROCKS OF FRUIT AND VEGETABLES,
AND MUCH MORE
AT VITA ANIMAL RIGHTS FEAST
On December 10, the internationally celebrated animal rights day,
VITA held an animal rights feast.
"Vegetarian ladies" - students of the MOSCOW FASHION LYCEUM - created
and demonstrated beautiful frocks made of parsley, dill, lettuce,
peppers and oranges. The music of famous vegetarian Mobi accompanied
the original fashion show.
As the next item of the feast a wolf and a rabbit - actors in costumes
- made an exciting theatrical show "Why do people need animals?"
"The delegates from the wildlife" expressed their deep surprise
that people keep killing animals for clothes, food, entertainment,
etc. At the same time humans have a wide choice of vegan food, warm
clothes from animal friendly materials, qualitative alternatives
to animal experiments, and so on, explained "the animals".
Vegetarian Singer Alexey Kravchenko surprised the audience with
his masterly jazz and flamenco improvisations. Other famous vegetarians
and VITA activists made short talks and shared why they chose for
the animal friendly lifestyle.
VITA demonstrated a documentary on the animal rights movement in
Russia, on its successes and challenges.
During the feast VITA also opened a one-day animal rights exhibition.
VITA activists decorated the feast site with the sensational canvases
of a vegan painter Ilona Gonsovskaya, drawings of the winners of
VITA 2004 anti-fur competition among children, alternatives to animal
experiments, photographs, magazines, posters, books, and other materials.
The feast guests enjoyed delicious vegan treats prepared by the
vegetarian restaurant "Avocado".
VITA delighted to see numerous media representatives among the guests
of the feast. 15 journalists reacted to VITA's media invitation,
and attended the event. As a result four widely watched TV channels
covered the feast, mostly at popular times.
Thus VITA achieved the main goal of the event - via the media to
widely inform people of the possibilities to lead a cruelty-free
VITA thanks the vegetarian restaurant AVOCADO for providing free
vegan snacks for the feast. VITA also thanks both MOSCOW FASHION
LYCEUM and the restaurant AVOCADO for their much appreciated volunteer
help with the feast item "Vegetarian ladies", and for creating the
beautiful frocks for free. VITA expresses her deep gratitude to
the gallery MARS for providing free space for the feast, Ilona Gonsovskaya
for exhibiting her wonderful paintings during the event, and all
the participants of the feast for their enthusiasm and endless motivation
to help stop cruelty towards animals.
KETAMINE SCANDAL CONTINUES
RUSSIAN FEDERATION: SHADOW OF DEMOCRACY
For the short history of the Ketamine scandal please refer to VITA
previous newsletters, or e-mail to Tanya Maroueva at email@example.com
On December 16 Frunzenskiy district court of the Russian town of
Vladimir sentenced Vladimir vet Olga Tanayeva to three years probation
for "illegal storage and selling of Ketamine". For three years Tanayeva
is deprived of the right to work with medical drug substances.
Practising vet Tanayeva kept Ketamine at home for her sick dog who
needed an operation. In January 2004 Tanayeva's friend and colleague
asked Olga on the telephone to sell her some Ketamine for an urgent
operation on another dog. Fifteen Vladimir Drug Enforcement Agency
(DEA) inspectors came "to collect" the drug. The prosecution started.
Tanayeva's friend turned out to be DEA agent.
VITA and Olga Tanayeva held a press-conference after the court hearing,
during which Tanayeva said she would appeal.
Four hours before the hearing Vladimir DEA informed the media that
Tanayeva would get a verdict of 'guilty'. How could DEA know that?
The logical question arises: how independent is the Russian system
In the afternoon of the same day VITA informed the media of the
fact that DEA had known what the verdict would be beforehands. Scandal
in the media broke out, and DEA does not seem to be able to clearly
explain its actions. On December 21 VITA sent an appeal to the General
Prosecutor's office and to DEA headquarters in Moscow to investigate
the activities of Vladimir DEA.
Our readers might remember that at a September press-conference
the head of Russian DEA Cherkesov publicly apologized for creating
problems with the use of medical drug Ketamine, essential in veterinary
medicine. Cherkesov also promised to stop vet prosecutions for the
use of the drug. Three months later though Tanayeva gets a 'guilty'
verdict. Prosecutions of all other vets have indeed been stopped.
Lawyer Chernousov defended Tanayeva and four other vets. After Tanayeva's
last court hearing Chernousov thanked VITA for preventing large
scale factual imprisonment of vets around the country. "Ketamine
scandal will go into the Russian history - he said. - This is the
first known to me case in Russia when such a powerful governmental
body as DEA reacted to the public pressure and reviewed their policy.
The public pressure was clearly evoked by VITA's large scale protests.
Many vets could be factually imprisoned hadn't VITA started her
Ketamine campaign, and made the matter public."
DEA'S REVENGE ON VITA
DEA to take VITA to the court of justice
On April 29, 2004 VITA made public the case when DEA inspectors
stopped an urgent operation on a dog with the diagnosis: piometra
(uterine infection). After the veterinarian anaesthised the dog
with Ketamine in combination with other drugs, DEA inspectors rushed
into the room and took the vet away for questioning. According to
DEA, the vet committed a crime when he injected the dog with the
forbidden Ketamine. Thus the operation was interrupted.
The dog was suffering for the whole night. Only the following day
another vet resumed the operation, without Ketamine. Afraid of possible
prosecution, this vet didn't dare to use the drug. The dog died,
presumably from pain shock, or from belated treatment. DEA's interference
is obviously the indirect reason of the dog's death.
The dog guardian complained to VITA, and we informed the media.
Outraged, DEA accused VITA of lies, and took us to court. DEA argues
that the dog has NOT died as an indirect result of their actions,
and that they have not interrupted the operation, as the operation
had not started yet…
DEA brought an action against VITA at Moscow Nagatinskiy regional
Court. However it became clear that such cases are outside this
court's competence, and should be dealt with by the court of arbitration.
VITA is now preparing for her defense at the court of arbitration,
although the organization hasn't been officially summoned yet.
As there is no animal welfare law in Russia, VITA has collected
testimonies from Belgium, the Netherlands, Brazil, Great Britain,
Spain, Norway and the USA. Vets and lawyers from these countries
describe why DEA's given actions would be totally unacceptable and
for the great part illegal in their countries. VITA informed the
media of the facts described in the testimonies. VITA thanks all
those of her readers who sent her the testimonies. Thanks for being
with us, friends!
CAN SICK ANIMALS BE OPERATED ON NOW?
Yes and no. As our readers might remember, in September the Government
published a resolution on the official conditions under which Ketamine
may be used. Many resolution items are next to impossible to implement
for vets. And the resolution 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.
The Ministry still hasn't issued the document.
The are three ways individual vets and veterinary clinics now choose
from to deal with animals who need operations:
- illegal secret use of Ketamine
- use of less qualitative expensive alternative drugs that might
have various side effects for the animals, and/or use muscle relaxing
- refusal to operate on sick animals
At the moment VITA is collecting testimonies from individual vets
and veterinary clinics to prove that the new regulation is totally
inadequate, and hard to realize. VITA will send the report to responsible
authoritative bodies, and require the necessary measures to fully
VITA ENCOURAGES SCHOOLCHILDREN
TO SPEAK UP FOR FARM ANIMALS
VITA has started a new competition among children and adolescents
for the best compositions on compassionate treatment of farm animals.
At the moment VITA activists are distributing invitations to secondary
schools of Russia and ex-Soviet republics to participate.
Later VITA will send the interested schools various materials on
intensive farming and vegetarianism. Teachers will hold lessons
on intensive farming using these materials. After the lessons children
and adolescents will write compositions and describe their views
on the issue, and suggest possible solutions of the problem of farm
The reward ceremony for the winning compositions will take place
in Moscow in autumn 2005. The jury will consist of Russian prominent
authors, journalists and VITA staff.
VITA BECAME A WSPA MEMBER
In autumn VITA became a member organisation of the World Society
for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). VITA is very pleased to be
able to join her efforts to make our planet a kinder place for the
animals with hundreds other WSPA member organisations around the
ANIMALS IN ENTERTAINMENT
PROTESTS AGAINST THE USE OF RARE, WILD AND EXOTIC ANIMALS IN ENTERTAINMENT
On October 17 VITA and a group of compassionate Muscovites held
a peaceful action to protest against the widespread use of wild,
exotic and rare animals and birds in entertainments, such as circuses,
zoos, photo business with animals, dolphinaria, etc. VITA also protested
against keeping rare, wild and exotic animals and birds as pets.
The action took place at Chistiye prudi (Pure lakes) in the centre
of Moscow, near the restaurant "Shater". To attract visitors "Shater"
keeps two swans in the lakes. One swan had been born in captivity,
the other - poached in the wild. The captors partly amputated the
birds' wings, to make sure they don't escape.
During the action VITA briefed the media on the plight of rare,
wild and exotic animals and birds in Russia. VITA activists called
to Russians not to support any cruel businesses with animals, and
to refrain from keeping wild animals and birds as pets. The action
was covered by the written media, and by the MOSCOVIA TV-channel.
If you wish to learn more about the use of rare, wild and exotic
animals in Russia, please read the article "New passion of new Russians"
at the end of this newsletter.
MOBILE ZOO'S STARVING ANIMALS RESCUED
On December 7 a resident of the Russian town of Murom alarmed VITA
that the mobile zoo "Gazel" (the so-called zoo-circus) keeps its
animals in unheated cages while the outside temperature was far
below zero. For over a week the zoo employees hadn't fed the animals,
or given them any water. The zoo director fled with a big sum of
money. Three animals had already died, before the local residents
started bringing the rest of the animals some fodder. A lynx died
several days later from exhaustion.
As there is no animal welfare law in Russia, according to
which the animals could be confiscated, and to contact the police
help, VITA had no legal right to interfere in any way. So we used
single, but one of the most effective tools we had: media.
We alarmed the media across the whole country and abroad. Thus the
matter became known not only in Russia, but also overseas.
As a result ROSGORTSIRK - the body that oversees the work of circuses
and mobile zoos - moved the animals to its base in the town of Schyolkovo
for rehabilitation. VITA believes that the best solution would
have been to confiscate the animals and to take them to a sanctuary.
However there is no legal basis in Russia to do so, and there are
hardly any sanctuaries for wild and exotic animals.
Bears, ponies, monkeys and other animals are now doing much better,
although some animals are still completely exhausted, and need regular
The Murom prosecutor's office started legal proceedings against
the "Gazel" director Mkrtumyan who had abandoned the animals without
fodder or water. Mkrtumyan is charged with animal maltreatment and
NEW PASSION OF NEW RUSSIANS:
BUSINESSES WITH RARE, WILD AND EXOTIC ANIMALS
by Tanya Maroueva
Fashionable hotels, chic restaurants and first-class boutiques welcome
the tourists in the twenty-first-century Russia. However it's not
the glamour of the enlivened country that many tourists will remember.
But some of Russia's newly-fangled businesses.
Brand new Russian businesses will treat you for a photo with monkeys,
crocodiles, lion-, tiger- and bear cubs. Exclusive restaurants will
try to attract you by live animals in their windows. These restaurants
will offer you ostrich, kangaroo or turtle meat. Mobile zoos will
be there to challenge your imagination. Dealers will try to sell
you snakes, parrots, crocodiles, turtles, lizards, and other animals.
However you will hardly be able to take the animals to your home
country. Custom rules forbid taking rare animals outside Russia.
Inhumane businesses with exotic animals annoy many tourists from
Western Europe and the Americas. On their return home some tourists
complain to animal rights organisations. However most Russians remain
quite tolerant of such businesses.
Russian Federation is a member country of the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The
Convention sets limits on dealings with hundreds of rare animals.
However the control over businesses with other rare, wild and exotic
animals is totally insufficient in Russia. Russia has no legislation
to limit such commerce. The only restriction is the limited number
of animals one may import.
For example, Russian circuses sell animal cubs to dealers in wild
animals, hunters kill mother animals and sell the pups.
However most animals come from abroad. Peru, Thailand, China and
ex-Soviet republics are among the suppliers of the animals. Up to
75% of the animals die during the illegal transportation. Dealers
first immobilize animals with scotch tape or drugs. Then they hide
the animals in huge bags among clothes, or in the double bottoms
Passing the customs with the baggage or the car boot filled with
exotic animals is a risky undertaking. Russian customs officers
confiscate the animals they find. The customs rehabilitation centre
for confiscated animals is filled to capacity. The idea is to send
them back to the country of origin. However the countries in question
caution against infectious diseases, and don't accept the animals
Many dealers in exotic animals still succeed in illegal import of
animals to Russia. This is when real money-making begins.
Dealers keep the animals in city apartments in large numbers. They
sell the animals illegally on animals markets. The state inspections
of the markets bring no result. Illegal dealers know exactly the
time the inspectors arrive, and hide the animals.
Other wild, exotic and rare animals end up as fashionable clothing
The last part of the animals is destined to become "the stars of
street photographing". Pups of wild animals often spend whole days
in the oppressing city summer heat. Entrepreneurs neglect the elementary
natural needs and instincts of these animals. Such animals mostly
don't reach adulthood. Photographers can't cope with adult wild
animals, and often kill them.
"We received many complaints about entrepreneurs who offered to
photograph people with a bear-cub. - says Irina Novozhilova, VITA
president. - The pup spent long days in the burning Moscow summer
heat, in the always busy trade centre VDNKH.
VITA immediately contacted the state commission responsible for
tackling such complaints. After visiting the place, the commission
inspectors claimed the animal was kept in proper conditions, and
that our alarm was false."
"Besides the apparent animal maltreatment, business with wild, exotic
and rare animals is dangerous for humans. - believes a Moscow veterinarian
and VITA director Elena Maroueva. -Exotic animals that end up in
Russia get ill very quickly. Veterinarians who try to treat sick
exotic animals are often helpless. The animals are not typical of
the Russian climate, as aren't their diseases. Most vets don't know
how to treat them. However these diseases are contagious, and can
be dangerous for humans."
VITA believes that Russia urgently needs animal welfare law that
would forbid atrocious businesses with wild and exotic animals.
Russian customs should watch more closely for illegal import of
The government should reorganise the work of the state commission
responsible for the control of animal markets, stores, zoos, etc.
The commission should thoroughly investigate all complaints about
illegal operations with wild and exotic animals. VITA believes that
animal advocates should join the commission as well to ensure its
impartiality. Nowadays criminals simply bribe the state inspectors.
"Our cultural values should change drastically as well. - believes
Irina Novozhilova. - Modern society is used to see animals as humans'
servants. Hence various maltreatments, and total lack of respect
Thank you for reading VITA's newsletter.
VITA exists in the conditions when most of the population in Russia
are too poor or too ignorant to donate to animal charities. In Russia
there are no trusts that donate to animal rights organisations.
VITA exists in the conditions when the staff works more than full
time and for free, or practically for free, at home, using their
bedrooms as an office, library, and for VITA's vast archives.
But animals need us, and VITA will go on with her work.
Please help us financially with any sum you can miss. VITA would
cordially appreciate your participation: financial, if you can,
other, if you can't. You are welcome to become VITA activist. Write
to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out what you
can do to help animals in Russia as a VITA activist.
I would also be most happy to learn what you think about VITA's
activities throughout the last three months, and about this newsletter.
Your opinion is very welcome.
author of this newsletter,
VITA's public relations manager
VITA's bank details:
INTERMEDIARY: CITIBANK N.A, NEW YORK ,
ACCOUNT OF BENEFICIARY'S BANK: 10961534
BANK OF BENEFICIARY: OST-WEST HANDELSBANK AG,
ACCOUNT OF BENEFICIARY: 0104162433
MOSCOW, IN FAVOR OF
Center for the protection of animal rights "VITA"
For additional information please contact VITA at:
tel: 007 (0)95 954 92 79
Mytnaya str 62-93