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Russian animal rights activists say 50,000 stray dogs & cats may have been murdered in Siberia shelter, call for federal probe

Russian animal rights activists say 50,000 stray dogs & cats may have been murdered in Siberia shelter, call for federal probe
Russian animal protection organization Vita has requested that the country's federal government take control of an investigation into the alleged mass murder of thousands of dogs and cats captured in the Irkutsk region.

The organization has called for the prosecutor general, the chairman of the investigative committee, and the minister of internal affairs to monitor the inspection currently being conducted by the regional veterinary service.

According to the activists, they were contacted by volunteers who entered an animal shelter in the village of Karluk, 13km from Irkutsk. They claim that they found animal corpses with traces of violent death, and believe that more than 50,000 dogs and cats have been killed since 2008. According to the organization, the shelter in Karluk is owned by Five Stars, a company with a monopoly in catching and keeping stray animals in the region.

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The company's owner, Alexander Soldatov, has denied the allegations and believes that Vita's work is linked to wanting to create competition in the Irkutsk market.

“Provocations have been taking place around our shelter for a long time. There were cases when dead animals were thrown into our shelter,” Soldatov said. “If there is evidence that dogs were killed, this should be investigated by law enforcement agencies. Now the shelter is being checked by the veterinary service, as approved by the prosecutor's office. Let's wait for its results.”

Earlier this month, local outlet Regional Newspaper announced that an unscheduled inspection of the shelter began on November 7, and is due to be completed on December 2. The paper explained that the local veterinary service found “violations of the rules,” including “inadequate provision of medical assistance.” They also wrote that animals were removed en masse from the shelter, just as the vets arrived.

Found in 2003, Vita is a Russian organization focused on stopping animal cruelty. According to their website, it only employs vegans, and has branches all around the country.

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