In the meantime, the catching and killing of stray animals and lack of animal welfare laws as well as animal shelters in the country is a very sensitive issue for metropolitan dwellers. The intellectuals, namely scientists, teachers, writers, performers, and other highly educated people, feel particularly negative about the elimination of homeless animals in Belarus.
For many years have they been seeking to draw the attention of government officials to this problem, but in vain.
This story is about Belarus' officials' reaction to the numerous appeals of the general public.
We hereby enclose the original documents and give examples of who looks into citizens' appeals to President Lukashenko containing the words ‘cat', ‘dog', or ‘animal shelter'.
In summer 2008, Belarus' scientists, actors and writers launched an extensive campaign addressing President Lukashenko.
The applications had one and the same title: ‘The Importance of a Civilized Solution to the Problem of Stray Dogs and Cats and Building an Animal Shelter in Minsk'.
More than 3,000 signatures were collected from the most educated people in Belarus who are well aware of the acuteness of this problem and its effect on the country's further development.
Universities, theatres, creative teams, families of writers sent letters to the Administration of the Belarusian President.
Here are some of the organizations which employees filed appeals addressed to President Lukashenko in summer 2008:
- Belarusian State Academy of Arts;
- Belarusian State University;
- Belarusian Dze-Ya Theatre;
- Institute of Fish Industry under the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus;
- Institute of Vegetable Growing under the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus;
- Research Institute for Epidemiology and Microbiology under the Ministry of Public Health of the Republic of Belarus;
- Government run forest-protection organization Bellesozaschita;
- Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry under the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus;
- Republican Scientific and Practical Centre for Hygiene;
- Scientific and Practical Centre for Potato, Vegetable and Fruit Growing under the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus.
Also, in summer 2008, President Lukashenko was addressed by geoscientists, biologists, and other scientists as well as writers and performers.
We shall now tell you about the outcome of the campaign.
Above is an original Russian-language document containing the address of the staff at the Belarusian State Academy of Arts to Belarus' Presidential Administration. Please pay your attention to the positions of the signers.
- N.I. Aladova - Department Professor;
- V.G. Gavrilov - Department Professor;
- L.V. Berezkina - Vice-Chancellor of the Academy;
- M.G. Shikov - Head of Department;
- V.P. Barilova - Head of Department;
- V.Ya. Semenko - Head of Department;
- R.I. Klimin - Associate Professor;
- O.V. Krivenok - Associate Professor;
- I.S. Melnik - Associate Professor;
- V.F. Ochaikin - Associate Professor.
Other lecturers, laboratory assistants, facilitators, and students of the Belarusian Academy of Arts also put their signatures on the document.
In their address, the staff of the Belarusian State Academy of Arts are pleading the Belarusian President to pay attention to the following issues.
Translation of the document
Administration of the President of the Republic of Belarus
The Importance of Building an Animal Shelter in Minsk
We, the undersigned employees of the Belarusian State Academy of Arts, hereby seek to draw your attention to the long-standing problem which requires urgent government response. We believe it is strange and abnormal that the capital has no animal shelter. Many countries, including the Baltic States, already have animal shelters. They apply civilized measures to solve the problem of stray animals: most of the strays are being spayed/neutered and vaccinated; while here they are indiscriminately put to sleep. The threat the strays pose is not significant enough for them to be killed so cruelly. We strongly object to the existing practice of elimination of animals (at taxpayers' expense). It dishonours our country and sets a bad example.
You are hereby requested to immediately take the following steps to solve the problem in a civilized way:
- the funds collected through dog taxes for building an animal hotel (which has not been built so far, even though its construction has been long planned and speculated on in mass media) shall be invested in the construction of an even more important facility - an animal shelter;
- impose a ban on the collection of animals for further elimination - at first, for cats.
We urge you to adopt a rational and humane approach to the solution of the problem of stray animals. We are hopeful that government authorities are composed of responsible people thinking on a national scale when it comes to issues affecting the society.
The addresses of employees of other institutions and organizations listed above are similar.
Now let's see where such appeals are forwarded by the Presidential Administration and which of Minsk officials prepare response letters.
Please find below an original document from the Administration of the President of the Republic of Belarus hereby provided for your reference.
On 24 June 2008, the head of the Chief Department for Citizens Appeals under the Presidential Administration forwarded the document to Minsk City Administration with the following note:
‘You are hereby requested to inform the applicants of the results of review.'
Translation of the document
Administration of the President
of the Republic of Belarus
Chief Department for Appeals of
Citizens and Legal Entities
Residence of the President, Minsk 220016
Tel.: 222 32 17, fax: 226 06 10
24 June 2008 No. 15/7-2877 Minsk City Administration
Please find enclosed an application filed with the Administration of the President of the Republic of Belarus.
Authors: Vitaly Iossifovich Kalach and others.
You are hereby requested to inform the applicants of the results of review.
Attachments: on 4 pages.
Head of the Chief Department for Appeals of
Citizens and Legal Entities /Signed/
SA Minsk City Utilities Services
28 June 2008
Our ref. K 802
Appeals Department, Minsk City Administration
26 June 2008
Our ref. 09-3093
P.O. Box 69 On Animal Shelter Construction
|The official of Minsk City Administration who reviewed the appeal is A. Kuntsevich. In 2008, he was supervising utilities services in Minsk. |
On 26 June 2008, he forwarded the application to the association responsible for the housing stock of the city of Minsk, namely Minsk City Utilities Services Association. We shall not provide the English text of the cover letter from Minsk City Administration. Below is its original in Russian.
|On 27 June 2008, V. Vorobiov, the General Director of Minsk City Utilities Services Association, forwarded the application to the company "Fauna city". |
The text of the original cover letter in Russian is provided below.
|Below is the document which requires special attention as it offers a clear picture of the mechanism applied for the review of citizens appeals regarding dogs and cats. |
This document deserves to be translated.
Responsible person: O.A. Kharkevich
Our ref. 799 Date of registration: 26 June 2008 Mass petition Pervomaisky district
Housing Repairs Organization
Administration of the President of the Republic of Belarus No. 15/5-1494 of 20 June 2008
Minsk City Administration No. 9-3040 of 24 June 2008
Applicant: V.G. IVANIUK Address: 3 M.I. KALININ ST., Apt. 37
Summary: ON ANIMAL SHELTER CONSTRUCTION
Supervisor: V.G. VOROBIOV
Endorsement: G.N. GILEVICH, O.A. KHARKEVICH FOR REVIEW AND ISSUING RESPONSE TO APPLICANTS
Responsible person: O.A. KHARKEVICH Due by: 10 July 2008
Please pay your attention to the following: firstly, the name of the responsible person at the top of the document (as we already mentioned, it is Oleg Kharkevich, the Director of "Fauna city"); secondly, the Summary field in which the subject of the application - On Animal Shelter Construction - is specified.
And now let us sum it up.
The petition signed by professors, associate professors, department heads, lecturers, and students of the Belarusian State Academy of Arts and addressed to Belarus' President's Administration reads that its authors are hopeful that the Presidential Administration ‘is composed of responsible people thinking on a national scale when it comes to issues affecting the society'.
The hopes were vain. The top-ranking officials at the President's Office as well as any other Belarusian officials remain indifferent to the concerns of the Belarusian society. Citizens' appeals regarding stray animals and animal shelters do not reach the President. They get to the same place where the dogs and cats get, namely the companies responsible for animal collection and elimination.
On the photos above you can see a building of "Fauna city", room of euthanasia, cats waiting for their death and dead bodies... This organisation is supposed to be responsible
for solving problem of keeping stray animals. Nobody in Belarus believes in it...
Every petition, whatever government agency it is addressed to, faces the same destiny. The very same officials who currently supervise the collection and disposal of waste as well as elimination of dogs and cats respond to these petitions and then get rid of them.
The responses of Belarus' officials to numerous citizens' appeals are the subject of another article.
Following the many-year correspondence with Belarusian officials, with piles of letters reading that ‘killing dogs and cats is the one and only means of keeping the number of stray animals under control' and that dogs and cats should be eliminated using any available method as they are ‘the source of rabies', we are forced to seek support from European organisations.