How to survive in a non supportive environment experience from russia
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How to survive in a non-supportive environment: Experience from Russia. Ivan Varentsov ( Andr e y Rylkov Foundation) 21.07.2014. AIDS 2014, Melbourne. Few words about ARF. G rass-roots organization from Moscow established in 2009

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How to survive in a non-supportive environment: Experience from Russia

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How to survive in a non-supportive environment: Experience from Russia

Ivan Varentsov(AndreyRylkov Foundation)


AIDS 2014, Melbourne

Few words about ARF

  • Grass-roots organization from Moscow established in 2009

  • Mission: to promote and develop humane drug policy based on tolerance, protection of health, dignity and human rights

  • 4 staff members, about 20 part timers and volunteers, no office

  • Average annual budget 250 000 USD. Zero support from government since 2009.

  • Key activities:

    • service provision

    • advocacy (with ascent on access to OST)

    • watchdog

    • capacity building of affected communities and individuals.

Drug policy in Russia

  • Policy of zero tolerance to drug use and war on drugs (= on drug users)

  • Zero support from government for HR programs and any psycho-social work with KAPs

  • OST programs are strictly prohibited (recent ban of OST programs in Crimea left 800 patients without treatment. Some of them already died)

  • Third largest prison population in the world (676 400 (Walmsley, 2014)) but more then 150 000 sentenced for drug related crimes (between 2005 and 2012 increased by 151% from 49.794 to 124.955)

  • Unclear statistics – 2, 5, 8, 18 millions of drug addicts (over 600 000 officially registered)?

  • Only 4 governmental rehabilitation centers and over 600 non-governmental mostly religious non-licensed centers

  • Federal Drug Control Services try to take control over rehabilitation services in country

HIV in Russia

  • Over 830 000 officially registered HIV cases

  • About 200 new cases being registered every day

  • from 1987 to 2008 about 80% of HIV cases were associated with the use of injecting drugs

  • On an average, 37.2% of the injecting drug users live with HIV

  • In some cities, up to 90% of people who use injecting drugs are infected with hepatitis C

Attitude to NGOs in Russia

  • Almost zero financial support from government to NGOs working in a sphere of HIV prevention in Russia

  • July 2012 – new version of a law regulating NGOs’ activities: all NGOs receiving foreign funding and\or trying to influence Russian policy should be registered as “foreign agents”

  • More then 1000 NGOs undergone unexpected inspections by prosecution offices in 2013

  • In June 2014 Ministry of Justice got the right to decide themselves which NGO is a “foreign agent”

  • Early this month the Ministry of Justice of RF issued an order to start unscheduled audit and inspections of all AIDS service NGOs in country

How to survive – strategy №1: direct support and community development

No matter the political and even financial issues – we always could go out on the streets to provide support to individuals and help people to save their lives.

We provide:

  • Harm reduction services (distribution of supplies during outreach work, testing, counseling)

  • Seminars and trainings for clients (on overdose, HIV, legal issues)

  • Case management services

    - Legal support (including street lawyers)

    And we try to inspire community activism by involving out participants in relevant ARF activities at all levels

How to survive – strategy №2: internal advocacy

  • To document what happened, prepare and disseminate reports: Recent ARF report “Hepatitis C in Russia: an epidemic of negligence”

  • Work with mass-media (press conferences, press releases, interviews, publishing articles): “Support. Don’t punish” with Pussy Riot.

  • Organize actions: protest action “Federal Drug Control Service is killing Margarita Charykova”

  • Strategic litigation: Dmitry Polushkin case who was released in 8 months after being sentenced for 5 years for possession of drugs for personal use

How to survive – strategy №2: internal advocacy

How to survive – strategy №3: external advocacy

ARF constantly appeals to the relevant international Institutions aimed to protect the Human Rights regarding the abuse of the rights of IDUs in Russia on health, on the access for the adequate evidence based treatment. Some examples:

2014 - Shadow Report to the UN Human Rights Committee in relation to the review of the 7th Periodic Report of the Russian Federation

2011 – 2013 ARF coordinated the completion and submission of 3 individual compliances to ECHR against Russia regarding the restriction of access to OST

2012 - report to the International Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on implementation by the Russian Federation of article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as it relates to access of people who inject drugs to drug treatment and HIV prevention, care and treatment programs.

2011 - Shadow Report to the UN Committee against Torture in relation to the review of the Fifth Periodic Report of the Russian Federation.


Have no idea.

Probably there are no any in nearest future.

But we should continue to do what we can.

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