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25 Oct, 2007 06:38

Man who battered stray dog to death gets suspended sentence

Subway security guard Boris Surov has been found guilty of killing a stray dog that died from numerous injuries after he beat the animal. He has been sentenced to 2 years 8 months, but the sentence has been suspended. He has also been given three years'

The case has caused a wave of protests and has increased pressure on the government to adopt laws on animal protection in Russia.

“What we are glad about is the way the case has been echoed in society. Such crimes should be repudiated publicly and cruelty should not be made a norm. But of course we consider the sentence too mild,” said Irina Novozhilova, from the animal rights centre.

The dog was being cared for by a woman who looked after it, gave it injections and registered the dog, but then she found that she couldn’t cope and that is why the dog ended up living in the metro.

The woman is the one responsible for bringing charges against Mr Surov. Her lawyer said that she is very disappointed at the soft sentence. 

Just minutes before going into the courtroom, the accused gave a comment to Russia Today. Boris Surov says he did not kill the dog.

“He bit me – but I did not beat him against a wall as they say. I just took him by the ears and threw him into a corner. I'd known him for two years and fed him,” he said.

Even after the guilty verdict was read out, Mr Surov was still protesting his innocence.

A scene of horrific cruelty took place in south-west Moscow in March 2006. The security guard’s actions were inexplicable. He delivered blows to the unprotected dog with the handle of a knife. It appeared that he just wanted to show off his strength to passers-by, some of whom were children. The public ignored the animal abuser's threats and managed to stop him.

Witnesses took the semi-conscious animal to a vet. But its injuries were too severe and the dog, called Ryzhik, died two weeks later. The case provoked a wave of protests against animal cruelty.

Animal rights activists have organised a wide campaign demanding the man be jailed.

This violent crime has also been used to attract the government's attention to a much bigger problem.

“We don't have laws that protect animals in Russia. The only document we have is a small article of a criminal court of Russia.  Police even don't know of its existence – or if they do know, they ignore it. They say they have too many investigations concerning humans,” said animal rights expert Elena Marueva.

In February this year, a monument dedicated to the humane treatment of stray animals was unveiled in another of Moscows metro's subway stations, the scene of  another dog killing six years ago. The memorial called 'Compassion' was erected as a symbol against animal cruelty.