07 April 2011


Press Release

The 7th of April is “World Good Health Day” and it will be marked in Moscow, at 14.00 in the “Capitol” TV Centre, when VITA celebrates the opening of the first vegan restaurant, the Moscow franchise of the international brand “Loving Hut”.

The ceremony will consist of: a concert featuring Russian stars who are vegetarian, a “Vegan Lady” fashion show (exclusive gowns made of fruit and vegetables!), a master-class in the art of carving figures in fruit and vegetables, a performance by the studio of Indian classical dance, a show of films about animal rights, and a festival of vegan cuisine. The event will be given wide coverage in the mass-media.

Honoured guests of the celebratory show will include famous Russian vegetarians and vegans: Olga Shelest, Aleksei Martynov, Marina Devyatova, Nikolai Drozdov, Dakota, Olga Zarubina, Grigorii Gladkov, Elena Kamburova, Maria Kalinina, Svyatoslav Eshchenko, Anna Starshenbaum and others, as well as sportsmen and women who are vegetarian: Rustam Gelmanov (2009 rock-climbing champion, four-times winner of his world cup group, one of the five best rock-climbers in the world), Aleksandr Pyanik (karate, yoga) and others. In the course of the celebration VITA will also present its new books, Vegan Cuisine – 333 recipes of vegan dishes – and The Unknown Tolstoy, a collection  of works by and letters from the renowned Russian writer and humanitarian Lev Tolstoy, thanks to whom vegetarianism gained unprecedented popularity in pre-revolutionary Russia.

This event will mark a new era in Russia, where the animal rights movement is accelerating by the day. However, despite the growing popularity of this ethical and health-giving way of life, Russian vegetarians have great difficulty in finding the right food and mainly have to be content with cooking for themselves. The assortment of vegetarian and vegan products is extremely limited; so various types of pâté and ready-made dishes, tofu and soya products are hard to find in the shops; they are rare in Russia generally and not easy to find even in  Moscow. This is largely due to the myth which has been disseminated in this country in recent years about the harmful effects of GM soya.

The first Russian vegetarian restaurant was opened in central Moscow in 2001; there are also several vegetarian cafes. The opening of the first vegan restaurant will be welcome news to Russian animal rights supporters and those seeking a healthy way of life.

For further information please telephone 007-926-229-13-84.

Or e-mail:

SAV To Withdraw Further Support For Backa Topola – And Our Reasons ….

Dear all,

after so many fruitless attempts to be a source of information and direct link assistance for the animals and various workers at Backa Topola, SAV will now, regrettably, pull out of the issue.

The reason – we have received very conflicting information from numerous Serbian and international sources over the last two weeks, and much as we have attempted to take it all on board and turn it into something productive that can generate much-needed assistance at Backa Topola – we have really been unable to.  Changes with regard information about what is happening at the site; especially regarding giving donations, have been arriving every day; sometimes several times a day, which have been making it almost impossible to keep a grip on accurate data which we are trying to provide on this site.

This decision which we are now taking is very much to be regretted – especially considering the very obvious plight of the animals still on site at Backa Topola. But from what we see as an outside (Uk) organisation, the infighting amongst, and complete and utter lack of any structured organisation by all parties concerning finding a common base on which to build an organised effort for Backa Topola is making our involvement nigh impossible.  This has been especially difficult in relation to attempting to establish where international donations are actually to be sent.

This is the first time ever SAV abandons an on-going rescue effort. But we are left with no choice.

It seems obvious and to our knowledge that a fair number of (animal welfare) parties are already involved in rescues at Backa Topola, albeit in what still appears to us to be a disorganised and very unproductive, un-structured  manner. People on an international basis are willing to donate their money, but we experience daily problems in even finding out basics such as where exactly the central fund for BT donations are. We still do not think that anything exists and that each group at BT are working financially independently. Nevertheless, it is to be hoped that these obstacles can, in time, be overcome. Efforts by us will now only ‘lightly’ concentrate on supporting the on-going attempts for the establishment of new homes around Europe for the animals currently at Backa Topola.

In our view it is the Serbians, first and foremost, who must come together as one for the benefit of the animals, and act accordingly. Foreign supportive and informative involvement like that of us at SAV, is only ever going to work when there are people and organisations locally, and throughout Serbia, who do not only share a common goal, but are also working and pulling together – and not constantly working against each other for the achievement of their individual goal(s).

To be blunt: this ‘working together’ situation is something which we – SAV; have not really seen or experienced since SAV was founded back in 2005. And Backa Topola is yet another fine example of that non ‘working together’ situation.

This approach as it currently stands is in our view, is so much to the detriment of those in real need of the help – the animals.

As long as this ‘individual goal only’ situation persists rather than a more united campaign front, nothing much will change in Serbia, and as a result it will leave the corruption and uncaring attitude of both national government and the local authorities free reign to continue just as they wish. Do they care about animals at the moment ? – No.  Probably because there is no united animal welfare / rights front in Serbia to tackle them directly as a united force on the issue.

Work for the animals will have to start with animal welfare organisations working on themselves first. There is a power in unity; but there is simply chaos in diversity.  It appears to be a situation of utter diversity at this current time within Serbia, with Backa Topola being a typical example.

SAV is there to try and assist, to promote the cause of helping animals in need and making efforts by providing a better future existence for them. It was founded for no other reason. That we currently see ourselves in no position to be of no further help for a crisis such as that at Backa Topola is really due to no fault of our own. And it pains us; but the time has come where we need to say something regarding how we view the current situation.

All you Serbian animal welfare organisations and campaigners, please unite; and by doing so, helping hands will be more than willing to be extended to you from many international outposts. Help for the animals must go THROUGH you, and WITH you. There is no other way.  You need to be united to be a powerful force; a force which can challenge the political ignorance which we see at this current time.

Do not let the animals become the pawns in the game, who must pay for the endless strife and dissent among Serbian animal welfare initiatives. They have suffered enough already.  It is time they were provided with real support, and this must be presented as a united force.

Mark and Diana – SAV