Of course we are aware that Russia is no EU country, but in our eyes protection of animals should have no borders or limitations by countries or continents. So we are very glad that an animal welfare activist in Moscow, Mrs. Annelie Martin, makes her Russia report available for publication.
„It is only a small step from animal murder to murder of human beings and therefore also from cruelty against animals to cruelty against human beings. “As long as there are slaughter-houses, there will be battlefields, too.„
Leo Tolstoi, 1828- 1910
1. country and people
What is Russia?
“Vodka, borsht, ballet” are the first catchwords, followed by balalajka, perestroika or Dostojewskij. Then the usual stereotypes are reached. Can we understand Russia by words or data?
„You will not grasp her with your mind, or cover with a common label. For Russia is one of a kind, believe in her, if you are able.“( F.I. Tjuttschew, 1866 )
The multinational state Russia is, according to the surface, the biggest state on earth and not only in geographic and climatic regards a country of superlatives and extremes.
Besides the Russians, who show the majority of the population, 100 other peoples live in the Russian area.
Modern Russia is stamped by conflicting political interests and democratic reforms.
Also appears the “Russian soul” contradictory to us in the western world:
Cordial hospitality and melancholy, mysticism and rationality create a coloured picture.
As a legal successor of the Soviet Union, Russia is a nuclear power and a constant member of the Security Council.
The social situation in Russia draws the picture of a deeply split society.
Poverty and wealth are found in the most extreme forms side by side.
Every fifth Russian lives below the poverty border according to information from the World Bank, the middle class earns per month about 430 Euro. Between 40.000 and 100.000 homeless people live only in Moscow, according to UNICEF approx. 30.000 children per year flee from their families to the streets.
They share their existence with a gigantic number of street dogs. And there are also just estimated figures.According to biologist's opinion, there should be between 25.000 to 100.000.
human and animal
In Moscow, street dogs belong to the townscape, they have adapted themselves to the big-city life as much as possible, beg with polished technologies for food, many use even the metro and travel from station to station, because they know where deboarding is worthwhile to find food.
In this survival fight, these mostly abandoned animals join already existing groups of dogs and move into territories near supermarkets and residential districts.
Citizens of Moscow deplore the inactive behaviour of the authorities in spite of numerous complaints.
Nevertheless, a survey of the “Fund for Social Opinion” proved that 70 percent of the questioned Russians like their dogs.
Many Muscovites feed “their "dogs with everything, left over from their own food.
Since 2007 even in Moscow in the hall of the metro station "Mendelejewskaja" the “Monument of the ownerless dog”, is shown.
dog’s living in Moscow
It is to be owed to the stubbornness and tough fight of a few animals welfare organisations (e.g., "VITA") and engaged citizens of Moscow, that in the year 2002 the Major Jurij Luschkow stopped killing the street dogs by shooting and 74 million roubles(about 1.7 million Euro) were invested in a sterilisation project (source: Berliner Zeitung, archive, 12.02.2008).
This sum was passed on to veterinary organisations which castrate the animals, chip them and then place them in the streets again.
Whether the money has reached those organisations or whether they have acted acc. to own parameters, it was never controlled.
The sterilisation programme, brought to life by immense efforts of the local animal welfare activists, presented to the authorities and sanctioned by J. Luschkow - remained without appreciable success, as it failed on a lack of organisation and logistics.
The number of the dogs grew further by natural increase and abandoning.
Until 2002, state means were invested to lower the population of the animals by lethal injections.
However, this poison affects no acceptable euthanasia, but an agonising death for 40 minutes under full consciousness.. The used poisons are not admitted in the EU.
Currently the situation is especially dramatic:
The city of Moscow prepares itself for the final contest of the Grand Prix d´ Eurovision. at 16.05.09.
Caused by the success of Russia in the song competition in May 2008, an announcement of the government of Moscow followed in July 08, to clean the town of stray dogs in course of the preparations for this event.
In this time also a pile up of reports and TV broadcastings, which picked out as central themes the aggressive appearance of the street dogs, the spreading of rabies and unpredictable attacks on people, appeared.
The thought of a manipulation of the public opinion is obvious, as the town itself admits not to become man of the situation.
Now the thought of taking up the dog killings by firing is renewed, honoured by a reward of converted 5 Euro per killed dog.
Ghastly pictures of whacked dog mothers with sucking puppies and videos of extremely crude actions of the dog catchers reached the public.
According to the pictorial reports and to documentaries, educated dog catcher groups, accompanied by unqualified administration employees, kill and shoot currently in a great hurry numerous dogs in front of the eyes of a shocked population in the ghastliest way.
The authorities meet the reproaches of indignant citizens with the advice to the need of the measure, because rabies cases and bite attacks would have recently piled up.
With signature collections, peaceful protests and demonstrations animal welfare activists try to oppose against the official measures at the moment and to inform the national and international public about the happenings.
Why are there so many street dogs?
Many of the Russian families balance on the poverty border, there it often seems impossible to nourish domestic animals, too.
These mostly land on the street. At the same time the western standard of a waste-oriented society, corruption and ignorance aggravates the situation.
A lack of juridical and executive consequences make it easy for many pet owners to get rid of their dogs and cats by abandoning.
In the streets, the number of animals has a phenomenal increase.
The castration programme from 2002 started too half-heartedly and was not adequate because of absence of a logical realisation.
Another problem also lies in the antiquated mentality of the pet owners, because until this day they are in the opinion that an animal should bear puppies several times, before it is going to be castrated, otherwise the castration involves a health risk.
A small part of the large amount of puppies is handed over to friends, but the biggest part is given to crude profiteers and Mafia-like organised animal traders, who assure to sell the young animals gainful on the animal bazaar, but only if the owner prepays a little bit.
If this does not succeed, you find the animals somewhere on a heap buried or along a street in plastic bags.
Mass production of puppies is found not only with dubious private individuals; also the so-called "Increasers" contribute to it.
Puppies of all races are offered for sale on dog bazaars. Mostly cheap and recently also offered on the Internet.
The earning of quick money with life is unfortunately not only in Russia a big problem.
the animal shelters
The unloved offspring also fills the state animal shelters up to the roof. The former desperate camps became "animal homes", pursued by the same leaders and employees.
The situation is mostly devastating.
Density, deafening noises from the animals which still want to become apparent and are able to, in winter unheated and feed and water often just enough to vegetate. Many dogs and cats give up their will to live within the shortest time.
Visitors usually may not enter these institutions and the adoption of an animal is endlessly complicated.
A few animal welfare activists, who find the courage to enter these arrangements had to fight very long for this "privilege" and need fairly a long time to find again to themselves , after the impressions of the misery and the hopelessness.
The camps also turn out as a profitable business:
The operators earn about 200 US dollars monthly for every dog. Regardless of his condition.
Secretly rotated films draw an inconceivable ghastly scenario of dying and apathetic, ill dogs.
A government decree of the city of Moscow (No. 2460 PM from 06.11.2007) intends the establishment of 15 new animal shelters up to 2010.
Until then all street dogs (at least 30.000 animals) should be accommodated in these shelters.
The town wants to use 64 million US Dollar for this plan. (Source: Rttv.ru/Art_and_Fun/2008 05 06)
Currently 4 homes are under construction at which already thousands of animals are packed together and eke out their existence.
The government denies the drama of the situation and counters the reproaches with pictures of a Moscow animal home, which show well fed dogs and cats in clean outlets - pleasantly, probably, unfortunately, the exception.
Moscow has more than 20 state and non state animal homes. Once a year a district commission, consisting of veterinarians and civil servants, visits these animal homes.
The commission decides which animal home receives subsidies from the state.
As the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaja Prawda in the edition of 5/27/2008 reported, a communist party journalist applied at an animal home as a volunteer and told shocked about the states ruling there.
The animal home management earns 130 roubles (approx. 3 Euro) per dog per day to supply the street dogs.
Beyond this, pet owners pay up to 500 roubles (approx. 12 Euro) for the accommodation of their animals in the holiday time as pension bulls. The latter are treated attentively.
For the street animals nothing remains. Mouldy food is thrown on the ground for them, for what is fought desperately.
There are no feeding dishes.
Who is too weak for the everyday fight of survival, will be killed.
Da die Kommission die Aufnahme und Sorge um verkrüppelte und kranke Hunde besonders unterstützt, wird diesbezüglich nachgeholfen.
Unnecessary amputations are not unusual, because the commission particularly supports the admission and care about crippled and ill dogs. The budget becomes additional increased by the production of race puppies.
For example, an English bulldog costs 30.000 roubles (approx. 697 Euro). The animal welfare activists, who know about these states are quiet because of fear of repressive measures and for the fact that the animal homes are closed and all dogs are killed. (Source: www.kp.ru/daily/24104/330208/)
Hundreds of dogs and cats per year lose their lifes in the streets of Russia.
Often badly injured and with ragged limbs, they often perish lonely and unnoticed in the street edge.
Some are found by animal friends and are maintained with a lot of time and expenditure, beyond the borders of the available capacity.
However, street animals are also often put out to crude infringements by people.
Hunger and the search for human affiliation make them slightly attractable victims.
Dogs and cats are often mutilated and are found ill-treated.
Then again the need also forces people to awful actions:
The Russian newspaper Komsomolskaja Prawda from Moscow reported with shocking picture in the 9/5/2008 about homeless people in Saint Petersburg, who eat dogs.
However, the lobby of the animal welfare activists has gained strength and grows further.
Private organisations and courageous animal friends finance castration projects from their own pocket, there are numerous peaceful animal welfare demonstrations in Russian cities, further educational articles and publications appear in newspapers, radio broadcasts or at TV - all with the aim to sensitise the population and to work towards a peaceful co-existence with the street animals.
On the 13th of May, 2009 a demonstration took place in Moscow in the Novopushkinskij Skver at 16 o'clock against the mass destruction of street dogs in Moscow.
The almost invisible word "Protection of animals" slowly wins more colour. Animal welfare activists and dog opponents, empathetical and corrupt authorities still have a bitter fight for the solution of the stray problems.
In the near future, it seems that it is a nearly hopeless fight, because it is a matter of activating a country and its responsible politicians for the problems of animals, where even the unprecedented misery of street children and homeless is accepted resignedly.
The protection of animals in Russia is still a private matter.
If we hold it with the Russian writer Tjutschew: “...For Russia is one of a kind, believe in her, if you are able.”
2. Legal basis of the protection of animals
Up to now no own animal welfare act exists in Russia, in spite of passing attempts.
However, a planned sanctioning of animal maltreatment is to be owed since the end of the nineties to a growing animal welfare lobby and the increasing pressure of national and international animal welfare organisations, in the form of repeated introduced law draughts to the Duma.
All these attempts failed up to now.
The explanation of the last refusal in spring 2008 of the office of the president at that time Putin:
We doubt the need of a legislative regulation of the topic, because already a sufficient protection of the animals would be guaranteed in appropriate laws.
So in „about fauna“- „about sanitary epidemiological well-being of the population“- „about veterinary medicine“ and the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.
How about the current state of affairs with the planned animal welfare law?
However, this time the public of Russia did not want to accept this sad development.
Personalities of public life, scientists, priests and environmental experts started a new attempt to speed up the creation of an animal welfare act.
As the news agency Ria Novosti reported on 22.07.08, they wrote an open letter to the Russian president Medwedew with the request, to accept a law draught about the contact of humans with animals.
„Presently the acute need has matured, to cultivate a civilised contact with animals by the people. This is not only a juridical, but also an environment-related and ethically educational job. Should the society eliminate abandoned animals furthermore, then it must be ready for an other step - the elimination of homeless people,“
so Michail Berulawa, member of the society chamber and the Russian academy of education.
In the writing it is furtherly pointed out to the fact that the valid Russian laws contain no concrete regulations, which forbid the cruelty against animals.
The keeping conditions for animals in breeding farms are not regulated.
There would be no ban of crude killing methods.
The authors underline that the cases of animal cruelty pile up and the situation of the animals gets worse in all areas of life.
The meaning of the schooling of human contact with animals of the adolescent generation is disregarded.
This is a condition for an increasing criminal activity among persons under age.
The writing carries more than 3000 signatures of Russian citizens, according to the society chamber.„
End of citation
Therefore, a law should be initiated which meets the requirements for the animals in their respective individual and biological living spaces and needs.
A treatment of animals which is incompatible with the principles of morality and humanitarianism also causes moral damages to the people and is not acceptable for a humanistic society.
Contents of the law draught are the legal regulation of the protection of all animals from maltreatment of every kind.
The law should be applicable for all animals, thus there are besides domestic animals and wild animals, the cattle-breeding, fish-stockbreeding and fur farming, zoo and circus animals, laboratory animals as well as the farm animals on the transports and the animals who must serve in exhibitions, sport and on stages for human entertainment.
In case of maltreatment of an animal even property rights should stand behind the obligation of the person to the protection of animals.
Also regulated is the realisation of the state regulation and supervision and the control by the executive.
A voice is established for citizens and non-commercial organisations in decisions of the executive and local self-government - as a control of the control.
The number of the street animals should be adjusted by a castration programme. (article14 of the animal welfare act of the Russian Federation).
Article 16 regulates the euthanasia with the finally enumerated matters of fact.
Only under quite narrow conditions, an euthanasia may take place.
Enterprise activities which are connected with the use of animals are subject to licensing and and to control.
The Russian President Medwedew did not follow the request.
The draft law did not reach the Duma.
A reissue is planned for this year.
The only protection of the animals exists currently under §245 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation „cruel contact with animals“.
What does the Criminal Code say?
Article. 245, Criminal Code, Russian Federation. Cruel exposure to animals
Cruel exposure to animals, which has caused their death or mutilation, has taken place, if this action was committed from
-rowdy motives or
-from greed or
-under use of sadistic methods or
-in presence of persons under age,
will be punished by a monetary penalty at the rate of up to 80,000 roubles or in height of the salary or another income of the convicted for the time of up to 6 months, with improvement work for the duration of up to 1 year or with arrest for the duration of up to 6 months.
Regulates the conditions and results of the action committed by a group.
Article 245 Criminal Code Russian Federation
refers to the human behaviour and negative morality against domestic animals and wild animals.
The objective matter of fact is the cruel treatment towards animals by action and omission, for example extreme disregard, use for non-scientific experiments, agonising killing, hunt with inhumane methods, systematic violence or causing of physical pain.
success is the death or the mutilation of the animal.
These actions are punishable, if they result from
-from greed or
-under use of sadistic methods or
-take place in presence of persons under age (i.e. less than 14 years).
Result is a fine (up to 80,000 roubles – about 1800 Euros), improvement work up to 1 year or arrest up to 6 months.
The subjective matter of fact requires direct intent or conditional intent. The culprit (every person to more than 16 years is accountable) recognises that he treats an animal cruelly, sees its injury or death and admits it consciously or accepts it.
An important role plays the motive of the crime. Here the law requires „rowdy motives“, alternatively greed.
First is fulfilled if no logical explanation forms the basis of the actions, they occur apparently for no reason.
Second is given if from the cruel contact a material interest arises.
Commenting and concept definition, source: Comment to the Criminal Code, Rus. Fed., Largely media, in 2007, Gromow and Iuraiut-Isdat, in 2007, Lebedev)
Is the Criminal Code implemented in the protection of animals?
A implementation virtually does not take place.
Charges are not taken up either, or are tolled on account of lacking public interest.
Execution deficits are the result.
It comes clear, that article. 245 offers no sufficient protection of the animals against human derailments.
For this speaks, besides the merely abstract undifferentiated concept of the text, also the placement in the law context.
Article. 245 stands in the segment of criminal offences against the health of the population and public security and ranks as the last norm immediately behind robbing of dead people.
A legal protection only for the animals is not recognizable.
Hence, the argumentation of the government of an available, sufficient protection of animals is not convincing.
Too blurred and fragmentarily appear the matter of facts and the legal results.
In contrast the penalty, by full exhaustion, seems suitable to unfold deterrence function.
With an average net income of a Russian, about 13.500 roubles, about 315 Euros (source: Ria Novosti of the 1/29/2008) the fine at the rate of up to 1800 Euros hurts definitively.
But the most delicate punishment uses nothing if there are not enough criminal proceedings by the authorities.
Also here the corruption is a serious problem.
Striking offence against article 245 too often remains unatoned.
It seems as if they only want to show “good will” with article 245, 25th chapter, clause 9, possibly as if someone wants to make a scanty concession in favour of a forever grumbling minority, within the scope of a listing of all offences, against the public health and public security.
What has to be expected and what has to be changed?
Whether this draft bill of 2008 obtains legal force in some time, even if it is awaited most impatiently, has to be watched.
It remains to hope with all forces that a quick normative protection of the animals will be issued in Russia, reborn from a past, which can be called only out-of-date and reactionary concerning these facts.
There are changes needed in every regard.
Beginning with the logical and from independent organs controlled realisation of a castration programme and it’s cost supervision, the transparency and control of the spent state money, about the abolition of the killing institutions, planning and quick realisation of the planned modern animal homes, this again controlled from competent, trained staff.
The ban of the chain-keeping and the profit-oriented mass breeding, essentially is the education of the population to a responsible and human contact with animals, a strict sanctioning of authority negligence with a lack of legal procedures against animal maltreatment and corruption is further necessary.
The killings of street animals by firing or poisoning, indifferently whether this occurs officially or through self-administered justice, have to be stopped immediately
Further the establishment of standard documentations for animal homes and breeding as well would be helpful, as well as the creation of a central independent animal welfare network with experts (veterinarians, biologists, lawyers).
However, the condition for all these innovations is the removal of a well-known problem:
Containment of the corruption and the possibility of freedom of speech.
As long as grief and misery of living beings in state "care" must be filmed secretly and the originators are worried about their physical intactness ,if the material is publishd, a own animal welfare act in Russia will also not diminish the big need of the street dogs.
Remark of the author:
On the occasion of the researches to this report I received numerous picture and film material from people from Germany and Russia. The contents of the material exceeded everything in horror what was known to me up to now. Unfortunately, I am hindered in publication of this report from thoughtfulness for the originators, who would not like to reveal their identity because of fear of repressive measures.