Online calls to save chicks from grim cull

Rallying cries are spreading fast on the web to save millions of chicks after a video showing thousands of the birds being drowned at one of Russia’s largest poultry farm shocked internet users.

­The footage showed workers at Krasnaya Polyana farm in the Kursk region, dumping chicks into huge metal containers, pouring icy cold water onto them and leaving them to freeze and drown it seems.

Internet users throughout the country started organizing demonstrations and rallies, harshly criticizing the farm’s actions. Bloggers and young people are organizing massive flash mobs encouraging everyone willing to take some of the chicks to their country houses. People were horrified at the sight of the tiny chicks being brutally killed, and the footage was reposted by many LiveJournal users, as were several dozens of shocking pictures.

The only explanation the workers gave for such cruel actions was that the farm had financial difficulties and a lack of monetary help.

The farm ran into trouble last summer when it failed to pay a three million ruble tax. The managers planned to get out of the red in the near future. However, the internal revenue service declared the farm bankrupt which resulted in the company’s assets being frozen. The farm workers simply had no money to feed four million chicks and chickens.

Before arriving at the decision to drown the chicks, the farm employees managed to save the lives of some 30,000 birds. Seven thousand were sold for peanuts – no more than five rubles each – and 25,000 were given to locals and other poultry farms for free.

Dmitry Noskov, spokesman for Krasnaya Polyana, said that after the first wave of birds were saved, the tax inspectors banned handing out chickens for free. The officials explained that the birds constituted part of the farm’s property, and taking into account its near-bankruptcy, the farm’s employees had no right to give the chickens away.

Over one million chickens have already been killed and there are still nearly three million which may meet a similar fate.

Galina Bobyleva, general director of the Russian Poultry Union, believes there is only one explanation for the barbarity – the owner of Krasnaya Polyana is a “bad manager”. Such tragedies occur when business fuses too much with politics, Galina added.

The regional department of internal affairs said that the farm’s actions were merely a means of tax evasion.

The Kursk regional authorities hold quite a different view. They stated that the appearance of the shocking footage was little more than a PR attempt to highlight the farm’s plight. However, it only managed to attract disgust and antipathy over the way the birds were killed. The horrible scene captured on video by the farm’s employees could be easily found on the internet and was later shown on TV.

On December 19, Vice Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov ordered the Prosecutor's Office to open an animal cruelty case against the farm.

While the Prosecutor's Office is about to announce its decision concerning the administration of Krasnaya Polyana and its staff, internet users are continuing to campaign against the farm and to save the chicks.

Authorities in the Kursk region are now seeking a potential buyer for the bankrupt poultry farm, offering some hope for the three million birds that are still alive.

­Anna Yudina, RT