Animal Cruelty in Russia: Investigation Stifled by Corrupt Police
This sad and troublesome event took place a couple of months ago in the Ulyanovsk region of Russia. On the 11th of June, a moose cow brought two young calves to the beach on the Volga River. Because of the recent heat and drought, usually cautious wild animals emerged from the forest in search of water. Svetlana Agoshkova, the head of the nearby tourist camp "Piny Wood", said that she and the other tourists staying in the camp enjoyed watching the moose take her two young calves for a swim in the river. "It was a beautiful picture," she said. "The calves were very young, not older than four weeks and they were splashing in the water."
The next day the moose and the youngsters returned to the river and that's when they were attacked by a gang of drunken men, 25-30 years old, who arrived at the beach in a car. They drove one of the calves away from his mother and started kicking, terrorizing, and beating him with sticks. Then, apparently being short on time (the crime was committed during what would normally be lunch time), they returned to their car leaving the badly injured, bleeding animal behind.
The next day the park rangers found the calf in the bushes: he was still alive."It was difficult to look at him," Svetlana Agoshkova said. "You could see right away that his ribs and legs were broken. There was a huge swelling on his head and there were tears in his eyes, when we covered him with the sheet and put him on a stretcher. He almost sounded like a human child calling for his mother. He was very weak; already by that time he couldn't eat or drink. I am having a hard time trying to forget it. I hope that witnesses will come forward. There were plenty of people on the beach that day; don’t they have any feelings?”
The injured calf was delivered to the care of the vet in the nearby town of Urazgildino, where it died from the wounds.
In spite of the initial reluctance of Cherdaklin's regional police department, a criminal investigation was finally opened two weeks later, but witnesses say that the police intimidated them and threatened them with prosecution for "false testimony." There were rumors that someone from the local administration of the region was involved in this crime.
Alexander Kaplin, former deputy and ecologist from Ulyanovsk, believes that the crime falls under the article 245 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (cruelty to animals) and carries a punishment of up to two years in prison. He appealed to the media and asked for people to turn in the pictures that they had taken during the incident, but witnesses wanted to avoid having to deal with the police.
Meanwhile, the vet who had cared for the wounded animal, was by now saying that there was not more than "a scuff" on its chest, echoing the police who suggested that the calf had died of "unknown reasons and possibly overheating."
According to Svetlana Agoshkova, she saw the moose cow with its remaining calf from a distance a couple of times after that. "She was looking longingly at the river, but she didn't dare to come any closer" she said.
During the unusually high temperatures, all the brooks and creeks in the forests have dried up. The river banks in the area are very steep, and it's impossible to reach the water from anywhere except the beaches that are crowded with people day and night because of the hot weather.
The chief ranger of the Cherdaklin region said that hunting in the area is prohibited because of the scarce animal population. There are only seven moose left in the area.