Connect with us

RussiaFeed

News

Politics

Russia’s parliament is locked in rare dispute over bill to ban hunting dog training

The State Duma and Federation Council disagree over a bill to ban ‘baiting stations’ which some call animal cruelty

Published

on

27 Views

(Meduza) – In mid-January, the State Duma created a mediation committee to review draft legislation that would ban “baiting stations,” where hunting dogs are trained to attack leashed wild animals. Co-sponsored by Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, the bill passed the lower house of Russia’s parliament in December 2017, before running into rare opposition from the Federation Council, which soon voted down the draft legislation. Senators argue that the law, which is intended to protect wild animals against cruelty, would actually “destroy hunting dog breeding” in Russia. The legislation’s supporters in the Duma say the Senate only rejected the law because of lobbying by “high-placed hunters.”

Never cross five million loyal voters

On December 21, 2017, the State Duma passed reforms to Russia’s hunting laws that would have prohibited the use of “baiting stations,” where big-game hunting dogs are trained to be aggressive with wild animals through exposure to chained animals in a closed area. There are currently 150 such facilities operated privately in Russia.

The legislation’s explanatory note states: “Wild animals receive serious injuries and are often killed during training. In order to prevent the animals from causing injury to the dog, they are mutilated (their teeth and claws are removed) and starved.” Lawmakers proposed that this form of training should be replaced by “contactless baiting,” where a net or sheet of glass would separate the animals.

One of the bill’s cosponsors, former Kremlin deputy chief of staff Vyacheslav Volodin, has spent years trying to ban baiting stations. It seemed as if he’d finally succeeded on December 6, 2017, when the Duma passed his bill, but the Federation Council voted it down two weeks later in a rare rebuke. This was only the second time since the current Duma took office that the parliament’s upper house rejected one of its laws. (The first time, the Senate voted down a law that would have banned advertisements on utility bills, arguing that it was a “nonsense” regulation.”)

The Senate has struggled to come to a consensus about Volodin’s baiting-station ban. Vladimir Lebedev, the deputy chairman of the Federation Council’s committee on agriculture and food policy, told the newspaper Kommersant that the law would “destroy hunting dog breeding,” arguing that so-called contactless training doesn’t work. Lebedev also warned that the legislation would “harm five million loyal citizens,” referring to Russian hunters.

Before Volodin even introduced his bill, Lebedev started polling officials from different parts of Russia, claiming that “not a single” region endorses the prohibition and “roughly 60 areas” actively oppose it.

The legislation did have some support in the Federation Council, however. On December 23, three days before the Senate voted, Chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko said she’d discussed the bill with Vyacheslav Volodin and come to the conclusion that it “struck a balance between animal rights activists and hunters.” The law also had the endorsement of two Senate committees: the Constitutional Committee and (over Lebedev’s objections) the Environmental Committee.

In the end, however, senators rejected the legislation, agreeing to a recommendation that a mediation committee should be created with 11 representatives from each house of parliament to negotiate a compromise. State Duma Deputy Speaker Olga Timofeyeva told Meduza that the mediation is estimated to last a month. “We expect our colleagues [from the Senate] to offer meaningful and rational suggestions about how to improve the existing law. Many of my colleagues who aren’t involved in hunting haven’t even read the law,” she said.

Oleg Shein, a Duma deputy from the “A Just Russia” political party, told Meduza that the Senate’s criticisms of the law have been more emotional than rational. “[They] are taking this personally. Most hunters go after only fowl and small animals. The number of licenses issued for hunting bear and other large animals [requiring dogs trained at baiting stations] is negligibly small. It’s fair to say that the law would have affected no more than 0.5 percent of all hunters in Russia. Senators took this personally because a lot of them are big-game hunters themselves,” Shein said.

State Duma Deputy Speaker Olga Timofeeva Anton Novoderezhkin / TASS

Shein also blames lobbying efforts for the bill’s defeat in the Senate, and Olga Timofeyeva told Meduza that there was “rigorous lobbying by high-placed hunters,” though she refused to single out anyone. Olga Savastyanova, a United Russia Duma deputy who also cosponsored the bill, said the Senate’s vote breaks down into simpler terms: “We are divided into those who support animal cruelty and those who are against it.”

Biting a jeep covered in bearskin

For the past two or three years, the Russian media has drawn attention to baiting stations. In 2015, the newspaper Sobesednik described these facilities as “well-organized brutality,” publishing a story about a bear named Masha that, according to animal rights activists, was mauled by dogs at a baiting station outside Moscow.

Last summer, Elena Bobrova, the president of a regional animal rights charity, told Radio Liberty about a bear named Motya that was used as bait to train hunting and fighting dogs in Perm. The dogs reportedly tore off the animal’s nose and genitals, before ripping out its throat.

In 2016, VITA Animal Rights Center president Irina Novozhilova said that a group of foxes at one baiting station were fed “bits of their own species” by staff she described as “torturers,” “sadists,” and “monsters,” accusing them of starving and blinding the animals.

The Senate’s refusal to pass the legislation has prompted a lively debate on Russian social media. On January 8, publicist Vladimir Tverskoi uploaded graphic footage of two small dogs attacking a muzzled, chained fox. At the time of this writing, the video has been viewed more than 1 million times. The footage was originally shared by Tatyana Mazunova, who worked at several baiting stations near Moscow. People commenting on the video demonstrated a range of views on the issue of animal rights. Some Facebook users said they’d like to see the dogs’ owners in the fox’s place, while others criticized Tverskoi for spreading “sponsored propaganda,” telling him to become a vegetarian if he wants to tell hunters they can’t brutalize animals.

One of Tverskoi’s most vocal critics was Maria Maltseva, a clinical psychologist with a PhD in veterinary medicine and the director of the Russian Society for the Support and Development of Therapy Dogs. Maltseva was, in turn, accused of acting as a paid troll for the hunting lobby.

“No legal baiting station was involved in any of the outrageous practices described by this man [Tverskoi],” Maltseva told Meduza. “This isn’t because hunters are true animal lovers; it’s due to the simple fact that there’s no profit in killing the animal during the baiting process. The stories about bears or boars being ripped apart are sheer nonsense. Just try sinking your teeth into a jeep covered in bearskin, and you’ll see what I mean.”

A hunter with 22 years of experience and a professional dog trainer who manages hunting-dog breeding at the Russian Hunting and Fishing Association, Maria Kuzina told Meduza that she’s never heard of bears being killed during baiting. She says the animals at baiting stations aren’t prevented from moving around and can actually defend themselves.

“The dog and the animal engage in a mutual struggle, and the animal isn’t constrained in any way. Even on a chain, a bear can still move freely. The chain is only there to keep it from running away. The animals fight back and are able to swat at the dogs, which they often do,” says Kuzina, dismissing reports that trainers declaw and bind the animals. While boars do have their tusks removed, she admits, the operation is performed surgically, with anesthesia.

Animal rights activists’ main objection to baiting stations concerns the physical and mental suffering inflicted on the animals, but Maltseva says there’s not as much pain involved as people think. “The animals used as bait are adults that already have experience with dogs. They lean into the dogs with their shoulders, where the hide is thick. Animals have 25 percent fewer pain receptors than people and almost none in their shoulders. Their skin is also twice as thick, plus they have fur,” she argues. “They certainly don’t suffer psychologically. They’re facing off against young puppies that only fool around. The animals have fun chasing after them, feeling superior.”

“Animals at testing stations are training the exact same way,” says dog trainer Marina Kuzina. “Some animals are very interesting to watch. They provoke the dog, luring it in and swatting with a paw, instead of ripping it to shreds.” Kuzina says it’s instructors and animal owners who face the real danger at baiting stations.

“Of course, the animals suffer both physically and mentally,” says biologist Ilya Volodin, a senior researcher at Moscow State University’s Biology School. “What should concern us is minimizing this pain. If we want to eliminate animal suffering altogether, we’ll have to ban all zoos and animal testing, and stop making vaccines, and so on. Bioethics can be tricky, you see. It’s a whole subject all its own in higher education, and it’s very hard to draw the lines. I think experts, not laws, should regulate these issues. A sadist shouldn’t be allowed to operate a baiting station. A rational person wouldn’t want his foxes torn apart by dogs because that’s his own money on the line.”

Viktor Drachev / TASS

Malsteva says that hunters are actually some of Russia’s fiercest critics of animal cruelty. “They’ll lay you out and take your animals,” she warns, arguing that animal abuse only occurs at illegal baiting stations (which are relatively uncommon, she says). “[Abuse] cases discredit all hunting and they insult the community and its ethics.”

A threat to hunting dog breeding

On YouTube, you can find videos from baiting stations uploaded by dog owners. Most of these videos feature wild animals moving around freely within an enclosure, sometimes chasing after a dog and sometimes trying to hide. The dogs bark and often bite the animals. Rights activists say the practice instills cruelty in both the dogs and their owners, including owners’ children, who sometimes witness the training sessions.

“When you see the baiting, you feel sorry for the animals. But after a while your compassion weakens and you become more cruel. And the staff at these facilities go home to their families and kids, so we have parents with diminished emotional capacity and especially low compassion. This can lead to stricter and crueler parenting,” clinical psychologist Margarita Izotova warned Radio Liberty.

“They have created rules that celebrate cruelty and aggression. A dog receives points in a fight with a fox. It’s given several points for barking and for approaching the game, and up to 50 for showing aggression. That’s treated as the most valuable trait,” says animal rights activist Elena Bobrova.

Aggression is indisputably valued in hunting dogs, and it’s even assessed formally in competitions. Defined as “the ability of a dog to attack the fox during the entire length of the test,” judges look for “biting, lashing, and aggressive barking,” as well as “fearlessness in attacking the fox.” Dogs receive certificates for these achievements, which, as dog trainer Marina Kuzina explains, are essential for breeding.

“It’s just like assessing milk production in cows and egg-laying in hens. It’s testing a dog to see if it meets the expected standard. There is no other way to evaluate this in breeds of hunting dogs. This is why we work with baiting stations, where they have strict rules and specially dug fox holes. It has nothing to do with ‘showing off’ or giving the dog ‘a workout,’” says Kuzina. She believes a ban on contact baiting would make it impossible to evaluate hunting dogs, posing a threat to the whole breeding business.

Cruelty to wild animals

Not all the objections to the Duma’s legislation on hunting-dog training are about ethics. The law would also restrict training stations to designated hunting grounds, arguing that these facilities shouldn’t be anywhere near cities or small children. Kuzina says trainers like her share lawmakers’ concerns about baiting stations in populated areas, but she points out that some towns and villages are technically located inside hunting grounds.

Kuzina also believes the Duma’s hunting law amendments wouldn’t actually bring about the reforms lawmakers say they want. The laws on hunting don’t apply to wild animals held in captivity, she says, which includes the animals held at baiting stations. Senator Andrey Klishas, who’s also president of the Russian Hunting Dog Federation and show chairman of Moscow’s annual Sabaneev Memorial National Dog Show, pointed out in committee that the ban in question would only prohibit the use of domestic animals, such as in “hen baiting,” which isn’t practiced in Russia.

Meduza asked the law’s sponsors to respond to these criticisms. “I see no contradiction,” said Duma deputy Olga Savastyanova. Oleg Shein dismissed the issue as “a well-known debate,” promising to send Meduza “a link to the legal statute” that resolves the apparent conflict. (We never heard back from him.)

“We have one basic aim here: to outlaw cruelty against wild animals at baiting stations today,” explained Duma deputy Olga Timofeyeva, who has visited two baiting stations. Shein and Savastyanova say they’ve never been to a baiting station. “The videos were enough for me,” says Shein.

When forming the mediation committee that’s meant to bring the Duma and Senate to an agreement, Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin stated that the lower house’s position has not changed. “We are pushing for the humane treatment of animals,” he said. If the mediation committee finds a compromise before February 10, the Duma might tried to override the Senate’s rejection, which would require a new vote and a two-thirds majority (300 out of 450 votes). Volodin might get his wish, too. The country’s ruling political party, United Russia, has signaled its willingness to call for another vote.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of

Latest

Russia’s Lukoil Halts Oil Swaps In Venezuela After U.S. Sanctions

Under the new wide-ranging U.S. sanctions, Venezuela will not be able to import U.S. naphtha which it has typically used to dilute its heavy crude grades.

Published

on

Via Oilprice.com


Litasco, the international trading arm of Russia’s second-biggest oil producer Lukoil, stopped its oil swaps deals with Venezuela immediately after the U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry and state oil firm PDVSA, Lukoil’s chief executive Vagit Alekperov said at an investment forum in Russia.

Russia, which stands by Nicolas Maduro in the ongoing Venezuelan political crisis, has vowed to defend its interests in Venezuela—including oil interests—within the international law using “all mechanisms available to us.”

Because of Moscow’s support for Maduro, the international community and market analysts are closely watching the relationship of Russian oil companies with Venezuela.

“Litasco does not work with Venezuela. Before the restrictions were imposed, Litasco had operations to deliver oil products and to sell oil. There were swap operations. Today there are none, since the sanctions were imposed,” Lukoil’s Alekperov said at the Russian Investment Forum in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Another Russian oil producer, Gazprom Neft, however, does not see major risks for its oil business in Venezuela, the company’s chief executive officer Alexander Dyukov said at the same event.

Gazprom Neft has not supplied and does not supply oil products to Venezuela needed to dilute the thick heavy Venezuelan oil, Dyukov said, noting that the Latin American country hadn’t approached Gazprom Neft for possible supply of oil products for diluents.

Under the new wide-ranging U.S. sanctions, Venezuela will not be able to import U.S. naphtha which it has typically used to dilute its heavy crude grades. Analysts expect that a shortage of diluents could accelerate beginning this month the already steadily declining Venezuelan oil production and exports.

Venezuela’s crude oil production plunged by another 59,000 bpd from December 2018 to stand at just 1.106 million bpd in January 2019, OPEC’s secondary sources figures showed in the cartel’s closely watched Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR) this week.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

Germany Pulls Rank on Macron and American Energy Blackmail

Why France’s Macron, at the last minute, attempted to undermine the project by placing stiffer regulations is a curious question.

Published

on

Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


It was billed politely as a Franco-German “compromise” when the EU balked at adopting a Gas Directive which would have undermined the Nord Stream 2 project with Russia.

Nevertheless, diplomatic rhetoric aside, Berlin’s blocking last week of a bid by French President Emmanuel Macron to impose tougher regulations on the Nord Stream 2 gas project was without doubt a firm rebuff to Paris.

Macron wanted to give the EU administration in Brussels greater control over the new pipeline running from Russia to Germany. But in the end the so-called “compromise” was a rejection of Macron’s proposal, reaffirming Germany in the lead role of implementing the Nord Stream 2 route, along with Russia.

The $11-billion, 1,200 kilometer pipeline is due to become operational at the end of this year. Stretching from Russian mainland under the Baltic Sea, it will double the natural gas supply from Russia to Germany. The Berlin government and German industry view the project as a vital boost to the country’s ever-robust economy. Gas supplies will also be distributed from Germany to other European states. Consumers stand to gain from lower prices for heating homes and businesses.

Thus Macron’s belated bizarre meddling was rebuffed by Berlin. A rebuff was given too to the stepped-up pressure from Washington for the Nord Stream 2 project to be cancelled. Last week, US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and two other American envoys wrote an op-ed for Deutsche Welle in which they accused Russia of trying to use “energy blackmail” over Europe’s geopolitics.

Why France’s Macron, at the last minute, attempted to undermine the project by placing stiffer regulations is a curious question. Those extra regulations if they had been imposed would have potentially made the Russian gas supply more expensive. As it turns out, the project will now go-ahead without onerous restrictions.

In short, Macron and the spoiling tactics of Washington, along with EU states hostile to Russia, Poland and the Baltic countries, have been put in their place by Germany and its assertion of national interests of securing economical and abundant gas supply from Russia. Other EU member states that backed Berlin over Nord Stream 2 were Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Greece and the Netherlands.

Washington’s claims that Nord Stream 2 would give Russia leverage of Europe’s security have been echoed by Poland and the Baltic states. Poland, and non-EU Ukraine, stand to lose out billions of dollars-worth of transit fees. Such a move, however, is the prerogative of Germany and Russia to find a more economical mode of supply. Besides, what right has Ukraine to make demands on a bilateral matter that is none of its business? Kiev’s previous bad faith over not paying gas bills to Russia disbars it from reasonable opinion.

Another factor is the inherent Russophobia of Polish and Baltic politicians who view everything concerning Russia through a prism of paranoia.

For the Americans, it is obviously a blatant case of seeking to sell their own much more expensive natural gas to Europe’s giant energy market – in place of Russia’s product. Based on objective market figures, Russia is the most competitive supplier to Europe. The Americans are therefore trying to snatch a strategic business through foul means of propaganda and political pressure. Ironically, the US German ambassador Richard Grenell and the other American envoys wrote in their recent oped: “Europe must retain control of its energy security.”

Last month, Grenell threatened German and European firms involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 that they could face punitive American sanctions in the future. Evidently, it is the US side that is using “blackmail” to coerce others into submission, not Russia.

Back to Macron. What was he up to in his belated spoiling tactics over Nord Stream 2 and in particular the attempted problems being leveled for Germany if the extra regulations had been imposed?

It seems implausible that Macron was suddenly finding a concern for Poland and the Baltic states in their paranoia over alleged Russian invasion.

Was Macron trying to garner favors from the Trump administration? His initial obsequious rapport with Trump has since faded from the early days of Macron’s presidency in 2017. By doing Washington’s bidding to undermine the Nord Stream 2 project was Macron trying to ingratiate himself again?

The contradictions regarding Macron are replete. He is supposed to be a champion of “ecological causes”. A major factor in Germany’s desire for the Nord Stream 2 project is that the increased gas supply will reduce the European powerhouse’s dependence on dirty fuels of coal, oil and nuclear power. By throwing up regulatory barriers, Macron is making it harder for Germany and Europe to move to cleaner sources of energy that the Russian natural gas represents.

Also, if Macron had succeeded in imposing tougher regulations on the Nord Stream 2 project it would have inevitably increased the costs to consumers for gas bills. This is at a time when his government is being assailed by nationwide Yellow Vest protests over soaring living costs, in particular fuel-price hikes.

A possible factor in Macron’s sabotage bid in Germany’s Nord Stream 2 plans was his chagrin over Berlin’s rejection of his much-vaunted reform agenda for the Eurozone bloc within the EU. Despite Macron’s very public amity with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Berlin has continually knocked back the French leader’s ambitions for reform.

It’s hard to discern what are the real objectives of Macron’s reforms. But they seem to constitute a “banker’s charter”. Many eminent German economists have lambasted his plans, which they say will give more taxpayer-funded bailouts to insolvent banks. They say Macron is trying to move the EU further away from the social-market economy than the bloc already has moved.

What Macron, an ex-Rothschild banker, appears to be striving for is a replication of his pro-rich, anti-worker policies that he is imposing on France, and for these policies to be extended across the Eurozone. Berlin is not buying it, realizing such policies will further erode the social fabric. This could be the main reason why Macron tried to use the Nord Stream 2 project as leverage over Berlin.

In the end, Macron and Washington – albeit working for different objectives – were defeated in their attempts to sabotage the emerging energy trade between Germany, Europe and Russia. Nord Stream 2, as with Russia’s Turk Stream to the south of Europe, seems inevitable by sheer force of natural partnership.

On this note, the Hungarian government’s comments this week were apt. Budapest accused some European leaders and the US of “huge hypocrisy” in decrying association with Russia over energy trade. Macron has previously attended an economics forum in St Petersburg, and yet lately has sought to “blackmail” and disrupt Germany over its trade plans with Russia.

As for the Americans, their arrant hypocrisy is beyond words. As well as trying to dictate to Europe about “market principles” and “energy security”, it was reported this week that Washington is similarly demanding Iraq to end its import of natural gas from neighboring Iran.

Iraq is crippled by electricity and power shortages because of the criminal war that the US waged on that country from 2003-2011 which destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure. Iraq critically needs Iranian gas supplies to keep the lights and fans running. Yet, here we have the US now dictating to Iraq to end its lifeline import of Iranian fuel in order to comply with the Trump administration’s sanctions against Tehran. Iraq is furious at the latest bullying interference by Washington in its sovereign affairs.

The hypocrisy of Washington and elitist politicians like Emmanuel Macron has become too much to stomach. Maybe Germany and others are finally realizing who the charlatans are.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

Russia Readies Own Web To Survive Global Internet Shutdown

Russia is simultaneously building a mass censorship system similar to that seen in China.

Published

on

Via Zerohedge


Russian authorities and major telecom operators are preparing to disconnect the country from the world wide web as part of an exercise to prepare for future cyber attacks, Russian news agency RosBiznesKonsalting (RBK) reported last week.

The purpose of the exercise is to develop a threat analysis and provide feedback to a proposed law introduced in the Russian Parliament last December.

The draft law, called the Digital Economy National Program, requires Russian internet service providers (ISP) to guarantee the independence of the Russian Internet (Runet) in the event of a foreign attack to sever the country’s internet from the world wide web.

Telecom operators (MegaFon, VimpelCom (Beeline brand), MTS, Rostelecom and others) will have to introduce the “technical means” to re-route all Russian internet traffic to exchange points approved by the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor), Russia’s federal executive body responsible for censorship in media and telecommunications.

Roskomnazor will observe all internet traffic and make sure data between Russian users stays within the country’s borders, and is not re-routed abroad.

The exercise is expected to occur before April 1, as Russian authorities have not given exact dates.

The measures described in the law include Russia constructing its internet system, known as Domain Name System (DNS), so it can operate independently from the rest of the world.

Across the world, 12 companies oversee the root servers for DNS and none are located in Russia. However, there are copies of Russia’s core internet address book inside the country suggesting its internet could keep operating if the US cut it off.

Ultimately, the Russian government will require all domestic traffic to pass through government-controlled routing points. These hubs will filter traffic so that data sent between Russians internet users work seamlessly, but any data to foreign computers would be rejected.

Besides protecting its internet, Russia is simultaneously building a mass censorship system similar to that seen in China.

“What Russia wants to do is to bring those router points that handle data entering or exiting the country within its borders and under its control- so that it can then pull up the drawbridge, as it were, to external traffic if it’s under threat – or if it decides to censor what outside information people can access.

China’s firewall is probably the world’s best known censorship tool and it has become a sophisticated operation. It also polices its router points, using filters and blocks on keywords and certain websites and redirecting web traffic so that computers cannot connect to sites the state does not wish Chinese citizens to see,” said BBC.

The Russian government started preparations for creating its internet several years ago. Russian officials expect 95% of all internet traffic locally by next year.

As for Russia unplugging its internet from the rest of the world for an upcoming training exercise, well, this could potentially anger Washington because it is one less sanction that can keep Moscow contained.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Advertisement

Advertisement

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!
Advertisement
Advertisement

Advertisement

The Duran Newsletter

Trending