High-energy post-Soviet activists do everything but raise money
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2003:
MOSCOW, KIEV, KHARKOV-A sociologist or political scientist
probably could not design a better comparative experiment in starting
an animal advocacy movement than is now underway in Moscow, the
largest city in Russia, and Kiev and Kharkov, the two largest
cities in the Ukraine.
Russia and the Ukraine are neighbors, the most prominent
remnants of the former Soviet Union, sharing parallel history,
ethnicity, and standards of living, and post-Soviet birth rates
that are among the seven lowest in the world, but have active
rivalries dating back more than 1,000 years.
Their ancient kings conquered each other, their forced
alliances held Napoleon and Hitler at bay, and they are now racing
into economic development and social/political westernization at a
Official statistics gathered by lingering remnants of Soviet
bureaucracy still reflect the collapse of the old Communist planned
industrial economy, whose ruined mega-factories sprawl for miles
between new commercial centers.
Yet The New York Times in December 2002 rated the Russian
economy among the strongest in Europe. Russian central bank reserves
are at a post-Soviet high, having quadrupled in four years. Foreign
debt is down 20%.
Reliable data from the Ukraine is harder to find, where
officially inflation and unemployment are climbing at double-digit
rates per year, while real incomes are dropping as fast, but the
downtown Kiev traffic and the rising variety and quality of
merchandise sold in the Ukraine, as in Russia, attests that the
consumer economy is growing and thriving, albeit largely off the
In societies where personal checking accounts and credit
cards remain rare, as a legacy of Soviet efforts to restrain
financial mobility, the ironic result is that many Russians and
Ukrainians can evade taxation more easily than do business in an
This in turn inhibits fundraising through direct mailings and
web sites. Although most urban Russians and Ukrainians are now
affluent enough to begin supporting humane work at about the Canadian
level, most who might be persuaded to give to an animal protection
cause cannot simply write a check or make a credit card donation by
pointing and clicking on a computer screen.
The fundraising techniques that built most older U.S. humane
societies, before the advent of personal checking accounts and
credit cards, are as yet almost unknown in Russia and the Ukraine.
Greenpeace has done some door-to-door solicitation in Moscow, with
limited response, in part because Muscovites don’t tend to keep
large sums of loose money in their apartments any more than do New
Yorkers. Like New Yorkers, they either spend their money fast or
The World Wildlife Fund has a kiosk at the Moscow airport to
collect change from foreign travelers who wish to be rid of coins.
It appears to be doing well, attracting small bills too, but there
seem to be no counter cans to collect spare change from the public in
either Moscow, Kiev, or Kharkov. The Leo Tolstoy Chapter of the
Center for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, in Kharkov, has done
some tabling, and has tried to sell publications to raise funds,
but without much success. The major source of outside support for
Leo Tolstoy Chapter campaigning this winter is a grant of $1,000 from
the Sabina Fund, managed by Farm Animal Reform Movement founder Alex
Hershaft in honor of his late mother.
Yet, contrary to the common perception of Russian and
Ukrainian activists, the concept of nonprofit fundraising is not
really new to either nation. Small private donations sustained their
churches throughout the Soviet era. What is relatively new is the
existence of charitable organizations other than churches. What
seems to be most difficult for nonprofit management in Russia and the
Ukraine to learn, with few ready examples other than churches to
study, is that asking for money to support community service,
including to help animals, is not the same thing as street-begging
by alcoholic derelicts and others who, once cushioned by the welfare
state, now have difficulty finding-or holding-productive employment.
A metropolis of 8.3 million people, Moscow more closely
resembles a flatter version of New York City than people who have not
visited lately might imagine-right down to the presence at subway
exits of apparently homeless people begging with their dogs. As in
New York City, begging with a dog seems as lucrative as singing or
playing the violin at a subway exit, one of many indications that
humane solicitation should thrive when local organizations learn how
to do it.
Kiev, a city of 2.4 million people, resembles Chicago-much
of which was built by Ukrainian and Russian immigrants. A bronze cat
in the corner of a park near the oldest churches remembers a beloved
restaurant cat who perished in a fire. Restaurant patrons passed
their hats to commemorate her.
Even more prominent is the larger-than-life central-square
statue of the reputed first Slavic settlers in the Ukraine: three
burly brothers, a soldier, a hunter, and a ploughman, with their
little sister, whose swans symbolize gentleness and purity.
A nearby statue celebrates a heroic horse, as well as the rider.
Though the Kiev donor base has yet to be reached effectively
in support of humane work, animals are clearly appreciated, at
least in the abstract.
Kharkov, with 1.4 million people, is conspicuously less
affluent than either Moscow or Kiev, but teems with a muscular vigor
indicative of expecting better times.
CETA Leo Tolstoy Chapter founder Igor Parfenov, a nine-time
former Kharkov heavyweight judo champion, in a nation where judo
draws standing-room-only crowds, seems to know almost everyone in
the city. Public donations to the Leo Tolstoy Chapter last year
amounted to about $5.00 U.S., he says-but the cooperation he gets in
arranging events indicates appreciation of his cause.
The evident rivalry between Russia and the Ukraine is not
only ancient but seasoned still by bitter memories of atrocities done
to Ukrainians by Stalinist cadres during enforced Sovietization, and
done to Russians-on a much smaller scale-by Ukrainians who briefly
mistook the Nazi invaders for liberators, until the Nazis showed
themselves to be no better than the Stalinists.
Yet the cultural differences between Russia and the Ukraine
seem to the outsider no more distinct than those between Seattle and
Vancouver, Cleveland and Toronto, or Boston and Montreal. Local
youths spray-paint the same English obscenities over old Soviet
mottos and insignia in either nation.
Nonetheless, the post-Communist animal advocacy movements of
Moscow, Kiev, and Kharkov are taking distinctly different paths.
The Moscow organizations are working both from the top down and the
bottom up, across the range of issues, while their Ukrainian
counterparts could be described as specialists, coming in from
angles and establishing their institutional footing before expanding
Dominating the Russian animal advocacy agenda, major
multinational groups including the International Fund for Animal
Welfare, Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Humane
Society of the U.S. maintain Moscow outposts. PETA organizers fly in
and out, apparently mostly to generate local media events in support
of their campaigns elsewhere, such as a December 2002 demonstration
in Moscow against Thai elephant training practices.
Except for one PETA protest two years ago, none of the
multinationals campaign against the booming Russian fur trade.
Indeed, HSUS is the only multinational with a fulltime presence in
Moscow which campaigns against fur anywhere.
HSUS operates in Russia through two subsidiaries, Humane
Society Inter-national and Earthvoice International. They apparently
share one representative. Their only Russian programs known to
anyone ANIMAL PEOPLE met are reputedly a nature restoration project
at a NATO weather station, and annual guest lectures at Moscow
University by HSUS president Paul Irwin.
Greenpeace Russia focuses on nuclear issues and pollution,
with some attention to whaling and sealing. Some individual
Greenpeace staff, ANIMAL PEOPLE learned, are more involved in
animal issues as private individuals than the organization is as a
whole. PETA has drawn upon Greenpeace Russia as well as the local
activist groups CETA and People For Animals [see below] for help in
staging Moscow demonstrations.
The most prominent World Wildlife Fund project while ANIMAL
PEOPLE was in Russia was the arrival of seven zubry bison from a
Swiss captive breeding program, for reintroduction to the
Pioksko-Terrasny nature reserve near Moscow. An eighth bison died in
transit. They were the latest of 54 bison brought to Russia by WWF
in recent years.
“The zubry, or Bison bonasis, are close cousins of the
American bison,” wrote Kevin O’Flynn of the Moscow Times. “Some
scientists claim they are a separate species. Others say they are a
subspecies of the American bison. They nearly died out completely.
In 1927 there were only 52 left, all in captivity but a breeding
program managed to reintroduce them into the wild. By 1999 there
were 1,117 bison in captivity and 1,738 in the wild,” but a Russian
population of 1,480 as of 1991 had by 1998 been poached down to 185.
“They were nearly all eaten,” WWF reintroduction project
coordinator Olga Pereladova told O’Flynn.
WWF in Russia, as elsewhere, favors maintaining a “huntable
surplus” of popular trophy species, and then funding wildlife
conservation from hunting revenue. The bison, if ever sufficiently
abundant, might eventually be hunted.
Meanwhile, WWF warned in December, the anticipated
admission of Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and
Romania to the European Union by 2007 may ruin hunting in the
Carpathian mountains by encouraging road improvements, modernized
agriculture, and rural development. This, WWF suggested, would
fragment habitats and destroy biodiversity– although making more
productive use of the best farmland would actually leave more
marginally productive land to return to nature, and more ecotourism
in place of hunting would tend to benefit wildlife.
IFAW, CITES, & TESS
IFAW, consistent with a global strategy of repositioning
itself as a conservation organization rather than primarily an animal
welfare group, involves itself in most of the same issues as WWF,
but from a position of opposition to recreational hunting. IFAW
Russia director Masha Vorontsova, Ph.d., is a wildlife ecologist
who followed her parents into a scientific career, and earned her
doctorate by studying tunicates, a kind of deep-sea creature related
to sea squirts. She had just returned from the CITES triennial
conference in Santiago, Chile, when interviewed by ANIMAL PEOPLE.
There, she represented Russian concerns about Amur tigers and
leopards, who persist in Siberia, and opposed trafficking in
Only IFAW appears involved significantly in local hands-on
animal welfare work, having provided start-up funding to the TESS
mobile sterilization clinic, and having invested $100,000 to start a
quarantine shelter for wildlife confiscated from illegal traffickers.
Located near the Sheremetyevo II international airport on the
outskirts of Moscow, the CITES quarantine shelter opened on October
3 in a newly renovated Stalin-era laboratory that shelter director
Sergey Ganusevich believes was used to research biological weapons.
He recalls studying veterinary medicine nearby-“But nobody came over
to this building,” he told ANIMAL PEOPLE. “We were not supposed to
ask about it.” Now, he laughs, he knows every inch of it, because
he did much of the cleaning and painting and fixing himself.
Ganusevich anticipated handling a flood of animals who were
to be seized in an officially promised crackdown on wildlife
trafficking. Moscow mayor Yury Lushkov on December 30, 2001 closed
the infamous Moscow Bird Market, which sold every sort of wildlife,
as well as dogs and cats.
The traffickers and breeders resumed sales at another site,
however, and again appear to operate with impunity. Although
airport inspectors reportedly made 47 wildlife seizures during the
first five months of 2002, Ganusevich did not actually receive any
confiscated animals until an African gray parrot arrived on October
14. A month later he received a chicken snake.
ANIMAL PEOPLE asked a variety of people about the lack of
wildlife seizures and was told by all, with shrugs of the shoulders,
that the traffickers were probably bribing officials. No one
envisioned this ending soon, though Ganusevich hopefully anticipated
that it would end if Moscow had a paper like ANIMAL PEOPLE to keep
the spotlight on animal issues. Encouraging honest law enforcement,
he suggested, might do even more than exposing the crooks.
The longterm survival of the quarantine shelter would appear
to depend upon developing a multipurpose mission, perhaps also
involving domestic wildlife rehabilitation, veterinary training,
and public education.
TESS got off to a better start. Founded in 2000 by Sergey
Kruchina, Ph.D., and Alexander Yu Gogolev, Ph.D., both of whom
are biologists by training, TESS as of November 2002 had sterilized
1,154 animals. Among them were 505 cats, 314 female dogs, and 335
male dogs. The clinic treated 2,500 animals altogether, including
more than 600 animals from private shelters operated by Moscow
rescuers Dasha Taraskina, Sasha Romanov, Lidia Zjuskind, and
Ljudmilla Bichkova, according to a briefing paper Kruchina and
Gogolev prepared for ANIMAL PEOPLE.
TESS also neutered and vaccinated 19 street dogs for Sokol
and Dmitrovskaya area volunteers Natasha Granakina and Luisa
Dovletova, Kruchina and Gogolev explained-and they assist 22
“home-based shelters which belong to people on low income,” they
“In such shelters, from 10 to 40 cats or dogs are kept,”
they explained. “Apart from neutering, a great amount of work in
such shelters is connected with the treatment and prevention of
common diseases, and also with educating petkeepers about the norms
of keeping animals in urban environments and rules of care and
feeding,” they said.
Though unfamiliar with the term “animal hoarder,” they
recognized a description of the syndrome, and agreed that their
outreach to the “home-based shelters” is directed at prevention of
out-of-hand hoarding situations.
TESS works at a very slow pace by the standards of U.S.
mobile clinics, whose surgeons often sterilize as many animals per
hour as the TESS teams manage in a day, but TESS is also the first
project of its kind in the region, and none of the participants as
yet have had the opportunity to be trained in high-volume
sterilization technique. That may be remedied now that Colorado
mobile clinic pioneer Jeff Young, DVM, a frequent overseas trainer
for the Spay/USA division of the North Shore Animal League America,
has opened a sterilization clinic and teaching hospital in
TESS is already the first veterinary clinic in the Moscow
area to use gas anesthesia, considered essential to developing a
safe assembly-line protocol for sterilization.
Whatever TESS learns will be rapidly passed on. “TESS
considers promotion and popularization of the project throughout
Russia to be among our most important work,” Kruchina and Gogolev
emphasized. In June 2002, they recounted, the TESS veterinarians
taught gas anesthesia to six local veterinarians in the city of Tula,
sterilizing 29 animals for the MAY shelter in Tula, founded by
Marina Kovsman. They treated 52 animals for MAY in all, and
delivered six lectures at the Tula Pedagogical University.
“The TESS visit to Tula brought quick results,” Kruchina
and Goglev said. “MAY was offered a building for use as a homeless
animals shelter on the territory of the local nonalcoholic drinks
factory, and was given support for starting a sterilization clinic.”
In addition, articles about TESS in the Tula newspapers brought 96
calls from the public during an hour-long phone-in radio program.
People For Animals/Russia
While TESS provides a key support link to the hands-on
animal care groups in the greater Moscow area, issue-oriented
street-level campaigning is the focus of People For Animals,
unrelated to the 18-year-old People for Animals founded in India by
People For Animals/Russia has only one chapter, so
far, while PfA in India has chapters or affiliates in almost every
major city on the subcontinent.
Otherwise, they could be mistaken for branches of a
single dynamic young multinational organization. Both campaign
across the spectrum of animal issues, on budgets of next to nothing,
and do some hands-on rescue work as well.
The PFA/Russia agenda has recently included halting
bullfights scheduled for Moscow in 2001 and Yaroslavl in 2002 (see
sidebar); collecting the signatures of prominent Russian
entertainers in opposition to plans to shoot street dogs that were
proposed by public officials in Petrosavodsk and Taganrog; holding
antifur demonstrations in both Moscow and St. Petersburg; protesting
against the use of animals in entertainment (including at the Moscow
Zoo, which is according to other observers rapidly rising to
world-class standards); promoting vegetarianism; producing 12
television documentaries and four talk-shows about animal issues,
with more in the works; producing 13 guest columns and special
features for various print media; translating 10 scientific articles
from English for Russian distribution; organizing a neuter/return
project to help feral cats; relocating several ex-circus bears to a
rehabilitation center; helping Russian and Belorussian universities
to develop alternatives to the use of animals in teaching biology and
medicine; and organizing the first Russian Animal Rights Congress,
held in May 2002 in the city of Sochi.
In addition, PFA/Moscow cofounder Lena Maroueva told ANIMAL
PEOPLE, “We stopped the prosecution of a woman who raised her
children on a vegetarian diet and taught them humane treatment of
animals. Her relatives were convinced that vegetarianism would make
the children ill, both physically and mentally, and brought legal
action to terminate her parental rights. The process was stopped
after PFA provided the court with scientific data on the value of
With all of that underway, PFA/Russia may still be
best-known for two rescues of drowning dogs that happened to attract
live TV news coverage.
PFA/Russia is the first second-generation Russian animal
advocacy group, formed from friendships among volunteers for the
Moscow Center for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, founded by
Tatyana Pavlova in 1991.
The relatively small Moscow humane community includes two
prominent Tatyana Pavlovas, who are not related.
The older Tatyana Pavlova, 71, is considered the babushka
(grandmother) of animal protection throughout both Russia and the
Ukraine. Her CETA was the first, after which the Leo Tolstoy
chapter in Kharkov was initially modeled. She started it two years
after she also helped to start the Russian Vegetarian Society,
following 20 years of involvement with the now defunct Animal
Protection Society, which was the official voice of animal advocacy
during the Soviet years.
Former Soviet premier Nikita Khruschev, something of an
animal-lover, introduced the first Soviet animal protection law in
1954, a year after the death of the notoriously harsh dictator
Joseph Stalin. The animal protection law was part of an effort by
Khruschev to introduce at least a semblance of compassion to the
Soviet police state, accompanying the closure of many of the
ill-famed Gulags and Siberian death camps. In1957 Khruschev
authorized the formation of the Animal Protection Society, organized
soon after the Soviet Union scored a space-race first by shooting
into orbit a small stray dog named Laika.
Laika lived only a few hours, according to recently released
Soviet archives, but at the time the world believed she had lived
long enough to be burned alive in re-entry into the earth’s
Somewhat naive horror at the fate of Laika outraged animal
advocates everywhere. The public was then largely unaware that pound
dogs were being experimented upon, electrocuted, decompressed,
shot, or gassed by the tens of millions, throughout the world,
while the Soviet propaganda machine made Laika probably the most
famous dog in history before discovering that millions of people were
more upset about her plight, isolated in space, than were thrilled
at the scientific triumph that she represented.
As a professor of English, Tatyana Pavlova the Elder was
aware of animal issues, but believed that the Animal Protection
Society was looking after them until 1969, when she happened to
visit the Moscow pound. She had never kept a pet, and has still had
only one, a former laboratory research dog who lived with her for 17
years. She had no previous involvement in animal advocacy. Yet what
she saw that day and ensuing discussions with friends persuaded her
almost overnight to become a vegetarian, stop wearing fur, and take
up animal advocacy as an almost fulltime avocation.
In 1975 Pavlova obtained an order from the Ministry of Health
regulating the use and welfare of laboratory animals, many of whom
were-and are-taken from pounds. To make further progress, she felt,
she would need scientific credentials. She returned to school at age
46 in pursuit of a biology degree, completed four years later. By
1985 she had produced a bioethics text book, and had begun teaching
a 20-hour course in bioethics for the Moscow University biology
department This led to presenting bioethics seminars for student
teachers, beginning in 1988.
“For me, animals are not entertainment,” Pavlova states.
“I do not even like to read books about animals. If you are dealing
with concentration camps, would you like to read nice stories about
Trained as a wildlife biologist, Tatyana N. Pavlova heads
the Moscow Department of City Fauna. Since czarist times, the
animal control apparatus in Moscow and most other Russian and Soviet
cities had consisted of dog-and-cat-skinning factories staffed by
convicts, whose pelt sales were supposed to finance the operations.
These institutions, called budkas, were privatized in 1991.
Unpopular with the public, they were officially abolished in Moscow
after mayor Yuri Lushkov was in 1997 reportedly about to order a
purge of free-roaming animals in preparation for the celebration of
the 850th anniversary of the official founding of the city.
“Animal rights advocates mobilized an intense lobbying
campaign,” remembered Douglas Birch of the Baltimore Sun-Journal, in
a laudatory March 2002 profile of Tatyana N. Pavlova and other
Moscow animal protection projects.
French actress turned animal advocate Brigitte Bardot
endorsed the campaign to abolish the budkas, as did Orthodox
Patriarch Alexei II, who also appealed to the mayor to stop
dogfighting-now illegal, but still going on, along with Monday
evening cockfights at the Beloye Solntse Pustyni (White Sun of the
Desert) restaurant, described by Bernard Besserglik of Agence
France-Press as “a venue favored by Russian leaders such as Boris
Yeltsin,” the former Russian Federation president, “and Vladimir
Putin,” his successor.
“Moscow’s leading Uzbek restaurant has been able to exploit
gaps in Russian legislation to stage regular bouts as a means of
boosting trade on slow days,” reported Besserglik in August 2002.
The politicians were responsive on the dog issue, at least.
Tatyana N. Pavlova was eventually hired to create the public animal
control agency, which debuted in 2001. Through field research she
determined that Moscow supports about 25,000 free-roaming dogs, who
fill an ecological niche: kill them, and more will take their
Rather than catching and killing any dogs whose behavior did
not present an immediate threat to public health and safety, Tatyana
N. Pavlova built the Department of City Fauna around sterilization,
vaccination, and education.
Education about vaccination is a particular priority.
A Japanese investigation of the vaccination status of about 230
Russian ships’ dogs who visited Japan between 1998 and 2000 found
that only about 25% had been vaccinated. This was considered high
compared to the vaccination rate for Russia as a whole, since dogs
who travel are more likely to be vaccinated, as a requirement for
landing in other nations.
Most of the ships’ dogs came from the Russian Far East,
which reports about 10 rabies cases per year. Rabies is less often
seen in Moscow, but if the vaccination rate is as low as is
suspected, any outbreak could bring havoc.
Tatyana N. Pavlova modeled her approach to animal control,
according to Birch, on the work of Yelena Khatskalyova, whom Birch
described as “a stylishly dressed woman who is married to the vice
president of an oil company. A couple of years ago,” Birch wrote,
“Khatskalyova and a wealthy friend set out to try to use the
catch-and-release technique. They hired staff, bought trucks,
surgical supplies, and office furniture, and went into the
dogcatching business. Their spaying and neutering center, ObzorZoo,
is in an old vivarium-where lab animals were once housed. Their
nonprofit group has been so successful that the activists hope to set
up another soon and expand operations to more Moscow districts. They
are also pressing for investigations of some of the other companies
that hold city contracts” in the Moscow suburbs.
Moscow urban wildlife
Protecting and diversifying the Moscow urban wildlife is
under park department “specially protected lands” chief Anastasia V.
Kuznetsova. Squirrels are her current concern. Of the 50 Moscow
parks that had European red squirrels circa 1997, 30 have lost them.
Izmailovo Park chief forester Mikhail A. Turkin is now raising
squirrels in captivity for attempted reintroduction.
“Technically, squirrels are part of a broader effort to
restore native wildlife,” wrote Michel Wines of The New York Times
in November 2002. “A few deer and elk still roam within earshot, if
not gunshot, of homes and highways. Fish-hawks, owls, falcons,
and herons have been released to the wild; other birds and perhaps
hares are on their menu.”
Exploring portions of Izmailovo Park, which forms a large
part of an extensive greenbelt around Moscow and suburbs, ANIMAL
PEOPLE observed a variety of birds, including wild swans, but
discovered only a few abandoned muskrat burrows to represent wild
mammals. Yet the habitat appeared capable of supporting
Connecticut-like wild biodiversity, with some encouragement. Refuse
would have to be removed, foot traffic would have to be restricted
to marked trails, and behavior disturbing to wildlife would have to
There was no sign of recent hunting or trapping, possibly
because no animals remained to hunt or trap, but ice-fishing was
among the more popular park uses, and dozens of trees were garishly
splattered with fluorescent green paintball pellets. The war-play
occurred within yards of partially collapsed underground bunkers left
from the World War II defense of Moscow against the Nazis.
Here, says a monument, almost within artillery range of the
Kremlin, the Wehrmacht advance was halted.
SOS Animals Ukraine
There are no multinational animal advocacy groups evident in
the Ukraine, and fewer local organizations, as well. The two most
prominent Ukrainian groups, SOS Animals Ukraine, of Kiev, and the
CETA Leo Tolstoy Chapter in Kharkov, occupy mostly separate niches,
and could coexist without significant program overlap within the same
Each could potentially grow into the hub of an organization
with chapters in cities throughout the Ukraine, but for the moment
each already has all the work it can manage.
SOS Animals Ukraine, founded by former United Nations
journalist Tamara Tarnawska in 1994, operates an ever-expanding
no-kill shelter on the premises of the former municipal dog-skinning
factory at the edge of Kiev.
“It was estimated that the budka bludgeoned to death
40,000-50,000 dogs and cats each year,” supporter John Ruane of the
British organization Naturewatch told ANIMAL PEOPLE in May 1999.
Bringing global media attention to the budka practices in
1996, Tarnawska-a Norwegian by birth, with a second home in
France-set up a subsidized neutering program to demonstrate a humane
alternative. SOS Animals Ukraine now sterilizes 70 to 75 dogs and
cats per week and teaches sterilization technique to veterinarians
from outlying cities.
In March 1997 newly elected mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko shut
the budka and turned the site over to SOS Animals Ukraine. At the
same time, he formed a new agency called Animals In The City to take
over municipal animal control, staffed by former budka personnel.
During 1998 Tarnawska and allies “exposed the old cruel methods still
in use, including poisoning dogs in the street, and asked what
was being done with the substantial funds allocated to Animals In The
City,” she told ANIMAL PEOPLE.
“Evil empire” strikes back
That brought consequences. On the last day of 1998,
Tarnawska said, “Animal exterminators from Animals In The City who
previously worked in the budka forced their way into the apartment of
animal lover Galina Shiyanova without any kind of official warrant,
and beat her animals to death with pipes. Shiyanova sought our
help to take the matter to court.”
SOS Animals Ukraine came under direct attack in January 1999,
charged with violating narcotics laws for possessing euthanasia drugs
and surgical anesthetics.
“We and our supporters received death threats,” Tarnawska
recounted, including one threat issued in the presence of Kiev Post
reporter Nathan Hodge, “and one of our vehicles was tampered with.”
In February1999, SOS Animals Ukraine veterinarian Mykola
Stehnei, 25, suffered brain damage and serious memory loss in a car
crash that killed two other people.
By mid-March 1999, faxed Tarnawska, “Several journalists
told us that they were forbidden to write about us.” But
in April 1999, after Naturewatch, WSPA, and the RSPCA rallied
organizations throughout Europe in support of SOS Animals Ukraine,
the shelter and staff were cleared of the spurious drug charges.
Animals In The City then tried unsuccessfully to sue SOS
Animals Ukraine and Tarnawska for slander, Tarnawska wrote to ANIMAL
PEOPLE in April 2001.
SOS Animals Ukraine meanwhile obtained undercover video of
Animals In The City personnel poisoning animals, aired on TV news
broadcasts during November 2000, and followed up in March 2001 with
a 25-minute videotaped interview with an Animals In The City
“He told us that each team has a monthly quota of 450-500
animals to be caught. Of those animals, 10 to 15 are taken to a
quasi-shelter in Borodianka. There, he said, they starve to death.
The rest are killed with ditilin, a curare-based poison that is
banned in civilized nations,” Tarnawska wrote.
“The Animals In The City staff officially do not work on
weekends. On these days they work for personal profit poisoning
animals in marketplaces, paid by the market directors. Puppies are
killed by smashing their heads. The catchers earn additional money
by flaying dogs and collecting their fat. A three-litre jar of dog
fat sells for $100. It is used by tuberculosis patients, of whom
there are many in the Ukraine. Some of the dogs’ remains go to a
processing plant in Baryshevka. Others are thrown into a forest near
Kiev, or dumped into a lake. Gasoline allocated for use in hauling
the bodies is then sold,” Tarnavska alleged.
“Once a week dogs are sold to research institutions,”
including the nearby Weapons Development Center of Schmeisser
International, Tarnavska finished. Her information was that
Schmeisser used the dogs’ living bodies to test bullets.
The intensity of conflict between SOS Animals Ukraine and
Animals In The City has lessened, but they are still at odds. SOS
Animals Ukraine gets frequent good publicity, yet the publicity
mostly just brings more animals to the shelter-which is not easily
found, being situated on the second of two narrow, winding, muddy
dirt roads (made more hazardous by speeding dump trucks) that one
must take from the nearest paved road, across a ravine, through a
once isolated rural village, and around a hairpin turn up a steep
hill from the nearest fringe of Kiev itself.
SOS Animals Ukraine adopted out about 650 dogs and cats in
2002, probably the most of any shelter in the former Soviet Union,
Tarnawska told ANIMAL PEOPLE. Just under half were adopted from the
shelter. The rest were placed through direct introductions of
adopters and rescuers made by the SOS Animals Ukraine downtown office.
Housing more than 320 dogs and 128 cats as of November 2002,
SOS Animals Ukraine has not yet promoted off-site adoptions, and has
barely begun to advertise cats as the perfect pet for the huge
majority of Kiev residents who live in small apartments.
Tarnawska, members of the small SOS Animals Ukraine staff,
and one of the board members all told ANIMAL PEOPLE that merely
feeding, housing, and sterilizing the incoming flow of animals is
as much as they can do.
Yet Kiev now has relatively few pet stores and dog and cat
breeders. Demand for pets is increasing, especially among childless
couples whose incomes are rising.
If SOS Animals Ukraine moves quickly enough to promote
adoption and make its animals accessible, ANIMAL PEOPLE pointed out,
it could meet the fast-growing Kiev demand for pets with placements
of sterilized and vaccinated dogs and cats. This presents a rare
opportunity to prevent pet overpopulation before pet stores and
breeders grab the pet market, gain economic and political clout,
and overwhelm the city with unsterilized and unvaccinated animals.
Already, Tarnawska said, pet breeders have had enough clout
to block the passage of some proposed animal protection legislation.
Leo Tolstoy Chapter
The CETA Leo Tolstoy Chapter, in Kharkov, by contrast
focuses on exhuberant advocacy-especially in support of vegetarianism
and opposition to fur. The chapter is named for Leo Tolstoy in honor
of Tolstoy’s role as perhaps the most prominent vegetarian in
Ukrainian and Russian intellectual history, who wrote voluminously
during the latter part of his life against eating meat and on behalf
of acknowledging the souls of animals.
The Leo Tolstoy Chapter distributes relevant literature by
Tolstoy, including a selection of his pro-vegetarian essays,
letters, and remarks in English translation.
Hands-on animal care work by the Leo Tolstoy Chapter, so
far, consists of looking after a pair of chimpanzees who were turned
over by the police to chapter founder Igor Parfenov after they were
confiscated from smugglers.
Ironically, that means that as of November 2002, the Leo
Tolstoy Chapter was handling the same number of animals, of much
larger and more dangerous species, than the IFAW quarantine center
The Leo Tolstoy Chapter and SOS Animals Ukraine, like
CETA/Moscow, enjoy some surprisingly warm alliances with local
universities, especially the science departments. This may at
present be their greatest strength.
The academic staff, who turned out in force to greet ANIMAL
PEOPLE at all four institutions we visited, one in Kiev and three in
Kharkov, are mostly agreeable to making concessions on animal
welfare issues, including using non-animal research and teaching
methods whenever possible, in exchange for help from the activists.
Every one of the scientists who spoke English endorsed the
idea that their institutions should establish animal care and use
committees similar to those mandated by law in the U.S. and Britain.
The alliance of necessity among Ukrainian scientists and
activists owes much to the underfunded state of post-Soviet science
The computerized alternatives to dissection, books, journal
subscriptions, and sometimes computer equipment donated by the Leo
Tolstoy Chapter and the Royal SPCA of Britain through SOS Animals
Ukraine appear to constitute a significant share of all the new
teaching resources that the science departments get.
The scientists also welcome the political pressure that the
Leo Tolstoy Chapter and SOS Animals Ukraine exert in favor of
improving the animal care facilities. Their jobs might be at risk
if they spoke out as bluntly as Tamara Tarnawska and Igor Parfenov,
who have independent incomes, in occupations outside direct
At present, teaching and research are frequently done in
facilities that would be considered dilapidated by Third World
standards. Poor maintenance is half the problem; poor design is the
rest. Climate-inappropriate monumental exteriors thrown up with
hasty site preparation during the Stalin and Khruschev regimes
conceal interiors suffering from inadequate lighting, erratic
heating, leaky pipes, and drains that decades of enormous weight
unevenly settling into soft soil have left trying to empty uphill.
As bad as the conditions were, however, the scientists
opened their doors with evident pride in their ability to function
under the adversities.
The Kiev University biology department, for instance,
allowed ANIMAL PEOPLE free access to their rabbit, rodent, and dog
holding facilities, acknowledging even before opening the first door
that nothing would meet the standards of the U.S. Animal Welfare Act.
Renovations and repairs were at last underway, however, apparently
for the first time since the laboratory building opened circa 1960.
The rabbits and rodents were housed in rusty wire cages, but
were clean, well-ventilated, and well-fed. Most were not afraid to
be handled. Most of the dogs enjoyed roofed outdoor runs funded by
Naturewatch, of Britain, and built under supervision of SOS Animals
Four dogs remained in the old indoor quarters, consisting of
rusted steel cells in a dank, mold-stained cement room, portions of
which appeared to be more-or-less perpetually under an inch or two of
dirty water. One major source of the water was condensation from the
naked steam pipes that provided heating. For beds the dogs had
cut-down old wooden shipping pallets, too small for their size, so
that parts of their bodies lay on the concrete floor.
Staff members told ANIMAL PEOPLE that these dogs were not
allowed outdoors, and were not exercised outside their cages. One
dog said to be aggressive-an unusual trait among dogs chosen for lab
use-seemed to be frightened and depressed.
At the Kharkov veterinary university it was evident that a
center for bioethics supported by the Leo Tolstoy Chapter occupied
one of the best-appointed rooms in the veterinary science building.
The spirits of youth could be much dampened by the physical
conditions of the Kharkov universities-but the Leo Tolstoy Chapter
does something about that, too, convening frequent energetic
multi-media discussion meetings, rallies, and protests. ANIMAL
PEOPLE witnessed two variety show-like presentations featuring a
dance act by former world-class gymnast Elena Slyusarchik, who
married Parfenov in October 2002, videos starring Michael Jackson
and Paul McCartney, lively question-and-answer sessions, and
dramatic anti-fur “fashion shows” featuring The Ghouls, an anti-fur
One audience, consisting primarily of science and vocational
students, was overwhelming friendly. The other audience, at a
cultural institute, included some people who were overtly hostile.
Parfenov enjoyed the friendly group but seemed most in his element
roaring back at those among the other group who rose from the floor
to bait him.
Afterward the boyfriend of one of the more vocal challengers
walked to the front of the room with her and explained to ANIMAL
PEOPLE, since she did not speak English, that we should not take
anything said as having been personally directed at us; their
argument was with Parfenov’s aggressive style.
Beneath the surface of resistance to his message seemed to
be an undercurrent of grudging respect.
People For Animals/Russia, Mytnaya Str. 62-93, Moscow 115191,
Russian Federation; phone: 95-328-9667; fax 95-954-9279; e-mail
SOS Animals Ukraine, Volodymyrska St. 29, Kiev 01034 Ukraine;
phone/fax 380-44-229-4295; email <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
CETA/Leo Tolstoy Chapter, Stepnaya Str. 23, Malaya Danilovka,
Kharkovskaya Oblast 62341 Ukraine; phone 380-576-358321; fax
380-576-331825; e-mail <email@example.com>.