Anima International is reluctantly ending its operations in Russia

Following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the last few months have been an incredibly difficult time for Eastern Europe. In addition to the immense suffering it has caused, the war has severely limited the activities of Anima International’s organisations in these two countries - Open Cages Ukraine and Open Cages Russia. As a result, we are currently re-evaluating our work to best understand what, if anything, we can continue to do as an organisation to help animals in the region.

Following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the last few months have been an incredibly difficult time for Eastern Europe. In addition to the immense suffering it has caused, the war has severely limited the activities of Anima International’s organisations in these two countries - Open Cages Ukraine and Open Cages Russia. As a result, we are currently re-evaluating our work to best understand what, if anything, we can continue to do as an organisation to help animals in the region.

While the damage to the Russian economy which it is currently experiencing may be beneficial to end the war, it is also likely that it will be harmful to farmed animals in the country, in both the short and long-term. A stable and strong economy opens up many more possibilities and is often necessary for improving animal protection. The opposite will sadly not be good news for animals.

With this in mind, as soon as the invasion took place, I began to work with my colleagues in Russia to scale back our activity and take some time to understand the risks associated with operating in a new Russian reality. The two most important factors that Anima International needs in order to build organisations in another country are freedom of movement (in order to coach and build relationships with our activists) and freedom of transfer of funds (to allow us to pay our paid staff members). Both of these needs have been severely restricted due to the invasion of Ukraine. 

After months of research, discussion and analysis, Anima International has decided that in order to protect the safety of our Russian activists, alongside the increasing logistic restrictions we now face related to working in the country, we will put on hold the building of our organisation in Russia for an undetermined period of time. Unfortunately, building an organisation in Russia is simply impossible for us at the moment.

Russia was a key focus for Anima International for many years because of the huge amount of animals used in the farming industry and the relatively poor levels of animal welfare currently found in the country. This is a blow to our aim to help as many animals as possible, as well as to our activists who have worked for years to build an organisation in the country. Huge steps were being taken in the development of plant-based meat products as well as the public’s understanding of animal welfare and the time was right to begin focusing even more on cage-free campaigning in the country. Nonetheless, the safety of our activists must come first. 

We will be integrating our Russian team members into other areas of the work in the organisation and we believe it is very important for Anima International to think about ways in which we can help ensure the animal protection movement survives in Russia in the coming years. 

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