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Russia AR News - August 2006

August 13, 2006


Read this and other animal rights news from Russia in The newsletter of the Animal Rights Centre VITA 2, 2006

Welcome! In this issue:

-- Another Russian Academy Rejects Animal Experiments!
-- Veterinary Congress 2006: VITA and InterNICHE Promote Alternatives to Animal Experiments Among Veterinarians
-- News Conference on International Day for Animals in Labs
-- 1,000 Animals Per Year Are Saved!
-- Another Fairy -- or a Rabbit's Life?
-- VITA Congratulates Its Colleague on Defending His Diploma on Introducing Alternatives to Animal Experiments in Education!
-- Victory in the Surreal Trial of Lidia Popova
-- The Murder of Ryzhik: Déjà Vu Four Years Later
-- Vegetarian Russia: VITA Starts a Project on Restoring the History of Russian Pre-Communism Vegetarianism
-- --Who Said That We Have Nothing to Eat?'
-- Humanitarian-Ecological Journal -- VITA's Eight Articles on Animal Rights
-- Archangelsk Branch of VITA Tells of Its Success!
-- Campaign 'Russia Without Cruelty'
-- 'We Are All Guilty Before Animals': First-Ever Animal Rights Video Clip in Russia
-- VITA Takes Part in WSPA Symposium in London

Another Russian Academy Rejects Animal Experiments!

On 19-20 April 2006, InterNICHE co-ordinator Nick Jukes and Elena Maroueva, InterNICHE national contact for Russia and VITA director, visited Kazan State Academy of Veterinary Medecine (KGAVM). On 20 April, InterNICHE and KGVAM signed an agreement to terminate animal experiments in the department of physiology and pharmacology. The introduction of humane alternatives in the Academy was made possible because of the new Russian version of the "virtual physiology" software, which is now going to be used by the students and lecturers instead of the English one.

Veterinary Congress 2006: VITA and InterNICHE Promote Alternatives to Animal Experiments Among Veterinarians

From22 to 24 of April, VITA took part in the 14th World Veterinary Congress held in the Moscow concert complex "Izmaylovo". For three days, hundreds of representatives at the congress had the opportunity to learn about the alternatives to animal experiments in the educational process that were presented at the VITA stand. Interested parties received footage about modern alternatives to animal experiments and other materials from VITA and InterNICHE.

On April 24, VITA finally realised its goal of presenting a broad academic audience with alternatives to animal experiments. A presentation on alternative methods in education by InterNICHE coordinator Nick Jukes was given to lecturers from Russian veterinary colleges attending the 14th World Veterinary Congress and created a great deal of interest in the subject.

News Conference on International Day for Animals in Labs

On April 24, International Day for Animals in Labs, VITA and InterNICHE held a news conference devoted to the issue of replacing animal experiments with humane alternatives.

The most interesting and modern alternatives to animal experiments from InterNICHE Alternatives Loan System were demonstrated at the conference. Plastic models of animals, wax figures of dogs and cats, videos, computer programmes, etc., got a lot of attention from the journalists.

Brian Gunn, the secretary general of the International Association Against Painful Experiments on Animals (IAAPEA), took part in the conference.

1,000 Animals Are Saved Per Year!

In April 2006, InterNICHE, VITA and IAAPEA visited the Saint Petersburg Academy of Veterinary Medicine -- one of the first Russian institutions of higher education to reject animal experiments in favour of humane alternatives.

The historic agreement to terminate animal experiments was signed by InterNICHE and the head of the pharmacological department on 24 October 2005. The implementation of the project was possible, thanks to the help of IAAPEA, which funded the establishment of the computer laboratory at the department, where students use computer software instead of animal experiments.

During 25-27 April, Brian Gunn (IAAPEA), Nick Jukes (InterNICHE) and Elena Maroueva (InterNICHE and VITA) visited the computer laboratory at the academy. "The staff of the department told us that using computer programmes to replace animal experiments saves the lives of 1,000 rats annually -- as this was the number of animals that was previously used", says Elena Maroueva. "You can't overemphasise the importance of this event for both animals and the Russian educational system, as the usage of alternative technologies in the study of pharmacology and other disciplines enhances the quality of education and places the Academy on a level with the most advanced and prestigious institutions of higher education in the world."

InterNICHE, IAAPEA and VITA met with the heads of the departments of anatomy, physiology, pathologic physiology and others. These meetings, along with discussions with the heads of the Academy -- the dean of the veterinary faculty and the rector -- showed that the Academy was actively interested in the introduction of humane alternatives to animal experiments.

'Another Fairy -- or a Rabbit's Life?'

On 20 May at 12 noon on the Day of International Protests against Procter & Gamble initiated by Uncaged Campaigns, VITA held a demo with the slogan "Another Fairy -- or a Rabbit's Life?" In spite of the rainy weather, the protesters, who had gathered in front of the Russian headquarters of the company, unfurled their handmade posters: "A Drop of Fairy Contains No Mercy", "Procter & Gamble Is the Animals' Executioner", "Don't Buy From Them While They Kill".

In Russia, information about animal tests and modern alternatives to such tests started to appear only quite recently, and so far Russian consumers are mostly ignorant of the fact that ethics should be considered when choosing cosmetics and detergents. This allows the unethical companies to predominate in the Russian market.

VITA Congratulates Its Colleague in the Ukraine Dmitry Leporsky on His Successfully Defending His Thesis on Alternative Methods of Education
In June 2006, Dmitry Leporsky successfully defended his thesis "Alternative Methods of Teaching the Practical Course 'Physiology of Man and Animals' Using Computer Simulations and Other Technologies".

While studying in the biology department of Karazin National University in Kharkov, Dmitry Leporsky, an ethical vegetarian, has been actively promoting humane methods of education. Having studied modern alternatives to experimenting on animals, Dmitry acquainted both professors and students of his own university and of other educational institutions with these methods; he became co-organiser of the 2nd International Bioethical Symposium; and he visited Ukrainian and Russian universities, institutes and colleges, where, together with activists from InterNICHE and VITA, he demonstrated alternatives to experiments on animals.

"Having had many conversations with professors and students, I concluded that the main reason why cruel and, more often than not, senseless experiments on animals for educational purposes are still going on is the lack of information. Very few people are aware of the fact that such experiments can indeed be replaced with alternative methods of very high educational value," says Dmitry. "I hope that the example of several Ukrainian and Russian universities and institutes that have already switched to humane educational methods only will urge other educational institutions to make the right choice that will save the lives of thousands of animals."

Victory in the Surreal Trial of Lidia Popova

The fate of 59-year-old teacher Lidia Popova, who opposed the illegal trapping of stray dogs in the northwest part of Moscow, has been closely followed by many Russians. The handful of dry dog food and two aluminium spoons with which Lidia Popova allegedly assaulted two police officers have passed into folklore, having been mentioned on many TV channels and even in a new TV series. After six court appearances, each accompanied by VITA demos near the Ostankinsky District Court, where the hearing took place, the prosecutor has withdrawn all charges. Now the surreal trial is over.

The story began on 14 September 2005, when Lidia Popova happened to witness the illegal trapping of stray dogs near the Rostokino Council offices. Familiar with the procedure of trapping, Popova immediately realised that the action was being carried out illegally. A phone call to the Stray Animal Control Department confirmed her suspicions, but unluckily for Popova, the unlawful trapping proved to have been organised by the head of the "Rostokino" Council, Peter Povolotsky. When the retired Popova explained to Povolotsky that he had violated Moscow Government Resolution No. 819-PP, which prohibits the unauthorised trapping of animals, the head councillor and former police officer called the police for help. The police didn't beat around the bush, and instead of arresting Povolotsky, they grabbed Lidia Popova, threw her into the car and took her into custody, where she was kept for more than seven hours without charge.

In her subsequent statement given to A.A. Kasatkin, the investigating officer of the Ostankinsky Interregional Prosecution Department (OIPD), Popova described her injuries and stated for the record that her arrest and detention had been unlawful. Kasatkin, though, did not pass this information to the prosecutor and without justification refused to initiate criminal proceedings against the guilty police officers. Having withheld the evidence of the police officers' illegal acts, Kasatkin, with the sanction of OIDP Deputy Prosecutor I.S. Ignatov, opened a criminal case against the victim, L.V. Popova herself.

The judge of the Ostankinsky District Court, S.M. Kostuchenko, was confronted with a difficult choice: either uphold the reputation of Southeastern Administrative District head Irina Raber, who created "a state within a state" that did not abide by the Moscow mayor's resolution that banned the slaughter of stray animals in the capital, or uphold the law -- the historic Resolution No. 819-PP, passed on 10 January 2002, the first law in Russia related to the humane treatment of animals, the law on which the prefectures wiped their feet and which was defended by Lidia Popova.

The Murder of Ryzhik: Déjà Vu Four Years Later

The disregard of cruelty-to-animals offences by law enforcement authorities, the absence of laws protecting animals from cruelty in Russia and the sheer cowardliness of those who witness animal abuse -- all these convince abusers of all kinds of the impunity of their acts.

Hardly had the Russian aficionados of culture resolved the issues connected with putting the sculpture "Compassion" at the Mendeleyevskaya metro station in Moscow to commemorate Malchik, the dog violently killed in the metro four years ago, when déjà vu struck, the difference on this occasion being that the murderer of the dog Ryzhik was not a 21-year-old female model (as in the case with Malchik), but a hefty guard with a criminal past.

What Ryzhik, the affectionate, friendly dog had done to upset Surov, the guard of the Konkovo metro station, who on 21 March 2006, in the middle of the day (around 3 p.m.) and in full view of passengers, started beating him on the head with the handle of a knife, is not known. Witnesses to the incident contacted VITA, which publicised the case, generating a huge reaction.

There is another considerable difference between this incident and the one four years before: Malchik died straight away from his injuries, whereas Ryzhik died after two torturous weeks in the "Eco" shelter under the constant gaze of TV cameras and the watchful public, which was hoping for a miracle. Closed craniocerebral injury, concussion of the brain, brain edema, internal hematoma and partial loss of sight in the left eye: in spite of the best efforts of the vets, it was impossible to save him. Ryzhik died at noon on 3 April 2006.

Appallingly, despite the awful death of a defenceless dog, the metro workers who had been present at the incident failed to overcome their cowardliness to testify as witnesses. Only because of the courage and actions of Ekaterina Kolycheva, who had witnessed the incident, was the case brought to investigation. At present, the investigation into Ryzhik's case is proceeding slowly.

VITA's new project to reconstruct the history of Russian vegetarian movement

The vegetarian movement is now spreading and growing in Russia. It is commonly believed that vegetarianism in Russia is only a matter of fashion, and was brought to the country from the Western Europe only recently. That belief is by no means true.

This year VITA launched a unique project which is to tell Russian people about the philosophy of non-violence and about ethical vegetarianism -- the way of life that was chosen by thousands of Russians at the beginning of the previous century. Books and magazines of the pre-communism period reveal what ideas predominated in the artistic circles and among progressively thinking people. Documents that miraculously survived till our days prove that the ideas of ethical treatment of animals were quite wide-spread. Vegetarian settlements, schools, kindergartens, canteens -- all existed at the beginning of the previous century in many Russian cities. They were destroyed after the advent of the new political epoch.

"It took us many months of hard work to put these texts together bit by bit from most rare archive pieces -- pages, turned yellow with time, pages that can crumble to dust in front of your own eyes," says Sergey Agabekov, an associate of the VITA Center. -- "Now we are going to publish these materials on our site, piece by piece, as soon as they are made publishable. The texts are to be scanned for the purpose. But even before that we have to restore the unreadable pieces, and edit the texts to fit the new orthography.

'Who Said That We Have Nothing to Eat?'

"Are you a strict vegetarian? Then how do you live? You have nothing to eat!" These are the words that vegans often hear from people who are unfamiliar with the concepts of animal protection and vegetarianism. A member of VITA, Olga Makovey, having qualified as a professional photographer in Edinburgh, decided to dispel this myth with a photo project called "Who Said That We Have Nothing to Eat?" The shooting was done in vegan and vegetarian cafés and also at vegan parties.

"Mushroom pâté with white beans, aubergines stuffed with pomegranate, roasted potatoes in olive sauce, corn skewers, vegetable and sweet pilafs, chickpea pasta with spices, tomatoes with soya cheese and herbs, broccoli cutlets, sushi with avocado, spaghetti with seaweed in sweet pepper sauce, asparagus salad, dozens of types of soups and desserts -- this is just a short list from among the abundance of vegetarian dishes, which easily shows that it's possible to be a gourmet without killing anyone," says Olga.

The full set of pictures of the various dishes together with recipes will be posted on the VITA Web site.

Eight VITA Articles on Animal Rights in the Latest Issue of Humanitarian-Ecological Journal

We are delighted to report that interest in the subject of animal rights is increasing every day. The most recent issue of Humanitarian-Ecological Journal, published by Kiev Ecological and Cultural Centre, was dedicated entirely to various aspects of animal rights. This issue of the journal included the following articles by VITA staff:

-- A. Kyuregyan, "Evolution in Attitudes Towards Animals: 1960s -- Beginning of 21st Century"
-- I. Novozhilova and K. Sabinin, "Do Animals Need Vets?"
-- A. Kyuregyan, "Traditional Presentation of Animal Subjects in Russian Education and Upbringing"
-- E. Maroueva and A. Kyuregyan, "Are Animal Experiments Necessary in the Education Process?"
-- A. Kyuregyan, "Bioethics in Overseas Education"
-- I. Novozhilova, "Promotion of Bioethical Ideas in the Media"
-- I. Novozhilova and K. Sabinin, "Living for Animals"
-- A. Kyuregyan, "Animal Rights Protection: School Lessons"

VITA-Arkhangelsk Is Making Progress

Russia is reputed to be a fur empire that hasn't yet, according to general opinion, wavered under the pressure of the "green movement". How often people suggest that we should go to the cold regions of Russia and try to survive there without natural furs and meat!

However, the facts prove that the movement for animal rights is growing daily, and it is spreading eastward and northward. Activities of the VITA branch in Arkhangelsk, which was established in February of this year, showed that the citizens of this Northern city were quick to respond to the idea of animal rights.

Thanks to fruitful cooperation between VITA and the mass media in Arkhangelsk, Pomorie (White Sea Coast) TV for the first time showed a piece about the vegetarian way of life. There are other TV shows, radio programs and mass-media articles touching on the issue of animal rights: using animals for food, for fur, for experiments and for other purposes.

The most successful animal rights protection activities of VITA's Arkhangelsk branch were: the creation of the Russian version of the educational computer programme "Physiology Simulators", which is an alternative to experiments on animals in the educational process; fruitful negotiations with the local authorities on introducing the sterilization of homeless animals; co-organisation of a "Food, Not Bombs" action during which free vegetarian food was offered to passers-by in the streets of Arkhangelsk; investigating the living conditions of animals in the local zoo and other actions.

"We are very enthusiastic about our work. We have lots of projects, plans and ideas, but the main thing is, there are more and more people in our city who want to put these plans and ideas into practice", says Alexei Skrobansky, coordinator of the Arkhangelsk branch of VITA.

Action -- 'Russia Without Cruelty!'

On 15 April at 12 noon in Novopushkinsky Square in Moscow, an action took place organized by VITA to protest against the fact that animals' rights are being violated in Russia.

The demo was held to support the cause of Lidia Popova, who had raised her voice against the illegal capture of dogs in the Southeastern Administrative District of the capital, as well as to protest against a whole series of cruel crimes that had been committed against animals and gone unpunished. Picketers, wearing masks looking like different animals, unfurled a gigantic banner reading, "Russia Without Cruelty!"

The recent cases of dogs' being poisoned on the campus of Moscow State University, dogs killed right in view of the public in several Moscow districts, the bricking up of basements of apartment houses while cats still lived inside during this very cold winter, and the cruel murder of defenseless dog Ryzhik (Red) committed by the guard of the Underground Station Konkovo have proved that the law prohibiting the killing of animals in Moscow is in name only. The death of the dog Ryzhik, who couldn't defend himself against his relentless torturer, who repeatedly hit the dog on the head, stirred the public and roused the anger and indignation of many Muscovites.

But in some regions, things are even worse than in the capital, where the public and the mass media help to publicise cases of cruelty to animals. The fallacious practice of capturing homeless animals for the purpose of exterminating them that is common in most of the cities in Russia triggers an explosion in the population of the city animals, thus making the situation even worse. Some authorities go so far as to call upon the local people to kill homeless animals with their own hands for a reward: The authorities in the cities of Samara and Ulianovsk (and before that, Dudinka) did this. One of the most monstrous, evil crimes that has still not been punished was committed on 6 February 2004 in the Pliussky District of the Pskov Region: Two railway workers sawed into pieces the tied up guard dog Mitiai with a chainsaw in front of three witnesses. Even 35 Russian celebrities who addressed the attorney-general of Russia, Mr Ustinov, asking him to give this case his personal attention failed to change the situation. The prosecutor of the Pliussky District, recently given an award "for his services to the nation", refused to see any crime in sawing up Mitiai!

Six years ago, the first and only attempt to pass a law defending animal rights in Russia failed: On 3 January 2000, president V.V. Putin vetoed it and sent it back for further consideration in spite of the fact that the law had already been approved after three hearings by the State Duma and by the Council of the Federation.

At present, the only law that defends animals in Russia is Article 245 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, which does not apply to "species bred for the satisfaction of human needs". Even when cases of cruel treatment of companion animals -- dogs and cats -- are proved, the guilty parties are rarely taken to court because local law enforcement agencies have a tendency to ignore this law. Moscow authorities approving the local law on animals cannot solve the problem all over the country, and besides, this law regulates only the relationship between humans and their animal companions.

'We Are All Guilty Before Animals': First-Ever Animal Rights Video Clip in Russia

The music group Scenacardia and VITA launched the first-ever video clip for animal rights in Russia. Scenacardia are the first champions of animal rights in Russian show-biz, winners of the Grand Prix of the Young Performers Competition in the city of Sochi (2005) and participants in the hit-parade on Russian radio. The video clip to the song "We Are All Guilty Before Animals" was created by VITA in 2005.

VITA Takes Part in WSPA Symposium in London

From7 to 15 June, VITA took part in a symposium and workshop of WSPA members in London. The trip proved to be very productive, and VITA established contacts with animal rights activists from different countries.

VITA visited its old ally and associate Fiona Oakes -- the head of Farm Animal Sanctuary in the south of England.

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 Karen Porreca from the USA for editing this newsletter.

If you are not on VITA's mailing list yet but would like to receive our free electronic quarterly newsletter, please send your e-mail address to: To unsubscribe, please write to the same address.

Yours truly,

Elena Maroueva, Irina Novozilova
On the behalf of VITA

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

Beneficiary: Restavratsiyastroybank Moscow
in favor of Center for the Protection of Animal Rights
Acc. 40703978400090001768

Bank Address: Russia 109004 Moscow
Bolshoy Drovyanoy per, 7/9, str 1

Destination: Charitable Donation

Please forward this newsletter to those who you think might also be interested in reading it.

For additional information, please contact VITA:

Russia 115191
Mytnaya str 62-93
007 495 954 92 79


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