After one year of war and increased repressions against civil society in Russia – suprisingly, but we still continue to do our harm reduction work on the streets of Moscow. Although now we have very limited resources to support our work, as due to the sanctions our sourses of funding from abroad almost totally collapsed, but we survived this year together with our participants. But your suport is needed for us now more than ever.
Despite the crisis and constant pressure we experience from the law enforcement and pro-gevermental mass media - we continue doing our daily outreach work in Moscow among people who use drugs. During last few months we continued providing direct services to prevent HIV, hepatitis, overdoses as well as providing medical, social and legal support to those in need. Our office \ drop-in center where we organize meetings of self-help groups and provide psychological counselling also still working, despite the complains from the inmates of the neghbouring houses to the police.
In particular, between the 1st of October and end of December 2022, the ARF staff provided services to 848 participants (the total number of contacts - 2510) and distributed 1 100 clean syringes of various sizes, as well as 204 490 condoms. Our street social workers conducted 2 058 consultations on various health-related issues and performed 475 HIV rapid tests (of which 9 were positive), as well as 309 tests for hepatitis C (8 positive). We conducted 44 consultations on overdose and distributed 35 ampoules of naloxone. 5 lives were reported saved thanks to the naloxone we distributed.
In addition, during the reporting period ARF case-managers took 11 new cases for social support provision, all of them – HIV positive people on anti-retroviral treatment.
And here is a story illustrating the work we do providing HIV services to people who use drugs:
In November 2022, Arina came to the outreach, she was brought to us by a friend who has been visiting ARF for a long time. Arina was diagnosed with HIV when being in the prison 7 years ago, but she did not take therapy. Arina was registered in Dagestan region of RF, she was very worried that her family would find out about HIV and was extremely ashamed of her diagnosis. The ARF case manager supported her and helped her to get a temporary registration in the Moscow Region, accompanied her to the regional AIDS Center. Arina donated blood for analysis, three weeks later she came for a consultation with an infectious disease specialist based on the results of the tests. Immune status at the beginning of treatment - 125 cells, viral load 402085. She received and started taking therapy at the end of December.
Despite the continuous escalation of the internal aggression of the Russian government toward NGOs providing support and services to the marginalized populations in country, and especially toward those who do not support the war against the Ukraine and is already being labeled with the “foreign agent” status, like ARF – we try to do our best to continue the provision of harm reduction services to people who use drugs in Moscow.
The situation is further complicated by the fact that due to the financial sanctions against Russian we are now almost unable to receive any funding from abroad and the Russian government never supported our work even before the war. Just recently we managed to figure out how to continue receiving your donations through the GlobalGiving platform and now this is one of the very few sources of funding being left we still could rely on to support our work.
In May - September 2022 the Andrey Rylkov Foundation (ARF), no matter what, continued his daily outreach social work on the streets of Moscow to prevent HIV, hepatitis, overdoses, and provide medical, social and legal assistance to those in need. In addition to providing preventive and informational materials, counseling and testing for HIV and hepatitis C, the the ARF team refer people to other social services they are in need of, assist in finding shelters, put them in hospitals, and help restore documents. We also provide naloxone for overdose prevention, saving lives every day.
During the reporting period, services were provided to 2,918 participants (total number of contacts 4,920) and 53,169 clean syringes of various sizes were distributed, as well as 87,233 condoms. Our outreach team conducted 5,189 consultations on various health related issues and performed 921 rapid HIV tests (of which 27 were positive), as well as 726 tests for hepatitis C (of which 124 were positive). We held 462 overdose consultations and distributed 1615 ampoules of naloxone, a drug that prevents death from overdose. During the reporting period, 261 lives were reported saved thanks to the naloxone we distributed.
In addition, during the reporting period, our lawyers provided 243 consultations on legal issues. Also, during the reporting period, 20 people started receiving ARVT thanks to the efforts of our social workers.
And here is a story illustrating our work in the new war related realities:
Participant D came from Sevastopol (Crimea), which limited his options to receive proper treatment in Moscow. In July, the ARF case manager, at the request of D, helped him to get hospitalized on a fee basis in the 19th Narcological Hospital in Moscow, but two days later he was discharged from there due to the poor quality of treatment: D suffered from insomnia, the doctors did not relieve him of withdrawal symptoms caused by the use of opiates.
In September, D decided once again to get treatment for his problematic use of psychoactive substances, but he lost his passport. By that time, military mobilization had already started in Russia, and in all respects D fell under it. However, due to his anti-war position, D was not planning to participate in it. ARF case manager accompanied D to the police department in one of the Moscow districts to report on the loss of his passport and apply for a new one. When coming to the police station, D and the case manager were illegally, without any reason, forcibly detained. A few hours later, D was taken to a separate room by one of the policemans. This man was apparently drunk, he interrogated D about his connections with Ukraine, took away his smartphone, checked personal correspondence, forced D to undress and show tattoos. It turned out that the reason for the detention and pressure was that D had a permanent registration in the Crimea. Employees of the ARF started calling the police department demanding the release of those illegally detained. Eventually, that helped and they were released. ARF case manager filed complaints to the Prosecutor’s Office and the Internal Security Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs about the torture actions of the police officer. At the exit from police station, D was gived a paper confirming the loss of a passport and also was fined for being in Moscow without a temporary Moscow registration.
A few days later, D showed up to one of the relevant governmental facilities to try to apply for a new passport. Employees of this goverment facility ordered him to go to Crimea, restore the document at the place of his registration, and began to threaten him with delivery to the military registration and enlistment office and sending him to the war front. After this incident D, accompanied by ARF case manager, nevertheless successfully applied for a passport renewal at another facility. Now D has a new passport, which allowed him to successfully be hospitalized in a high-quality federal narcological hospital of the National Medical Research Center for Psychiatry and Narcology in Moscow. There he is going to undergo a full course of treatment and rehabilitation.
As you may know, ARF has been included in the registry of foreign agents already in 2016, all our funding comes from international organizations and private microdonations. Starting from February 24, as a foreign agent NGO, our team keeps bearing additional risks which spiralled in a new very hostile political environment we have now in country. Although of course our burden is incomparable with those threats experiansing by our friends and colleagues in Ukraine on a daily basis due to the war.
At this moment it is really difficult to estimate the whole financial damage to ARF, as the cost of the ruble has crumbled and international transfers stopped. We were not able to receive an number of approved grants from donors; GlobalGiving and Benevity where we had accounts / ongoing donations have stopped transfers to Russia (although you still may donate to us, we hope to figure out with GlobalGiving how to receive these donations soon). We hope that we will be able to survive but that will be a reall challenge.
Despite the crisis we continue our daily outreach and all service work in Moscow. During the reporting period, the Andrei Rylkov Foundation (ARF) continued to provide direct services to people who use psychoactive substances on the streets of Moscow, aimed at protecting their health and rights, as well as reducing the harm caused by drug use. We do it by conducting an outreach work on a daily basis in order to prevent HIV, hepatitis, overdoses, provide medical, as well as to provide the social and legal support to those in need. In addition to providing prevention and informational materials, our outreach and social workers help people accessing health and social services they need, assist them in finding shelters, help them to get admissioned into hospitals, and to restore the documents. We also provide rapid tests for HIV and hepatitis C, pre and posttest counseling, as well as naloxone for overdose prevention.
In particular, between the 1st of January and end of March, the ARF staff provided services to 1139 participants (the total number of contacts - 1309) and distributed 12 404 clean syringes of various sizes, as well as 17 491 condoms. Our street social workers conducted 751 consultations on various health-related issues and performed 225 HIV rapid tests (of which 8 were positive), as well as 93 tests for hepatitis C (35 positive). We conducted 44 consultations on overdose and distributed 290 ampoules of naloxone. 7 lives were reported saved thanks to the naloxone we distributed.
In addition, during the first quarter of this year ARF case-managers were working on 21 cases which were taken for social support provision, and our lawyers have provided 51 consultations on legal issues.
And here is a story illustrating the work we do on the streets:
In late 2021 – early 2022, the ARF conducted a survey to identify the sex workers most in need of medical care. In particular, in getting tested for STIs and receiving gynecological examination in a private clinic in Moscow. Based on the results of this survey, sex workers with obvious needs for legal and psychosocial support were identified as well.
In the process of being accompanied to the clinic, one participant, O, was diagnosed with syphilis and trichomoniasis. O is an emigrant from Ukraine and cannot receive medical care in the Russian Federation on a free basis. Also, working on a street, O does not have enough level of income that would allow her to regulary visit a gynecologist and conduct diagnostics for HIV and STIs.
As a result of the assistance provided by us, O was able to successfully cure the detected diseases. A total of 13 sex workers received similar assistance from ARF during this period.
First of all - on behalf of the ARF team we woudl like to wish all the best to you and your close ones in the New Year, stay safe and healfy!
During the reporting period, the Andrei Rylkov Foundation (ARF) continued to provide direct services to people who use psychoactive substances on the streets of Moscow, aimed at protecting their health and rights, as well as reducing the harm caused by drug use. We do it by conducting an outreach work on a daily basis in order to prevent HIV, hepatitis, overdoses, provide medical, as well as to provide the social and legal support to those in need. In addition to providing prevention and informational materials, our outreach and social workers help people accessing health and social services they need, assist them in finding shelters, help them to get admissioned into hospitals, and to restore the documents. We also provide rapid tests for HIV and hepatitis C, pre and posttest counseling, as well as naloxone for overdose prevention.
In particular, since the 1st of September, the ARF staff provided services to 1005 participants (the total number of contacts - 1361) and distributed 58 595 clean syringes of various sizes, as well as 17 149 condoms. Our street social workers conducted 845 consultations on various health-related issues and performed 89 HIV rapid tests (of which 25 were positive), as well as 10 tests for hepatitis C (0 positive). We conducted 110 consultations on overdose and distributed 808 ampoules of naloxone. 114 lives were reported saved thanks to the naloxone we distributed.
In addition, during last 4 months, ARF case-managers were working on 19 cases which were taken for social support provision, and our lawyers have provided 38 consultations on legal issues. ARF psychologists conducted 20 consultations in our office.
A case illustrating our legal support we provide to people who use drugs.
Vitaly was convicted of drug trafficking and imprisoned in a prison that is located far from his parents' place of residence. As a result, they were unable to visit him.
Vitaly applied to be transferred to a prison located in the same region where his parents live, but he was refused. He approached ARf with a request to help and our lawyer, Vladimir Tswingli, filed an administrative claim to declare the refusal unlawful.
We lost the case in the court of first instance, but the court of appeal in May this year overturned this decision and ruled that the refusal to transfer is illegal, and the Federal Service for the Execution of Sentences should again consider Vitaly's petition to be transferred to a prison in the region where his parents live.
The Federal Service for the Execution of Sentences appealed this decision, but in September 2021 the cassation court refused to satisfy this complaint and upheld the decision of the court of appeal.
Time flies, and we are happy to be back with our regular report!
One of our latest cases
In November 2020 Elena was detained by Rosgvardia officers and sent for an examination. It revealed that her analyzes contained traces of drugs (marijuana, alpha-PVP). And an administrative offense case for using drugs in a public place was initiated against Elena.
At the beginning of 2021, Elena asked the ARF team for legal assistance, and her defense was represented in court by our lawyer Timur Madatov.
At the court sessions, police officers, who opened an administrative offense case, were questioned and they could not say for sure whether Elena had been using drugs at the time of her arrest or not.
Elena testified: «I am a person with problematic drug use and, naturally, because of this, there were traces of drugs in my biomaterial, but this did not mean that I had used them in a public place. Most likely that day I used them at home».
As a result, on February 17, 2021, the court ruled to dismiss the case and found Elena innocent. Thanks to your support we are able to keep fighting for justice!
Now, go catch up with our updates
We want to start with a recent Politico article on our work and role in the drug policy:
«I wanted to share a great piece that Politico did on our work in Moscow. In a final case study of a two years series on the global HIV situation, they explore ARF's case of building up services for the most vulnerable, criminalized, stigmatized, underserved (and huge!) group in Russia — people who use drugs. In 2009 Kremlin has proclaimed the official turn on HIV policy — from at least pretending to follow the world best practices to an ideology of 'Russia's own way', 'traditional values', 'healthy lifestyle', 'zero tolerance' and other conservative outdated second-hand rhetoric. As a result, Russia is currently among very few countries where HIV is on the rise, while also actively blocking the global progress and political agreements towards HIV elimination. The same 2009 was also the year when ARF was established and set off to develop an organic, resilient, community-based, horizontal platform of public health resistance to the dictatorship and ever intensifying war on drugs. Thanks to everyone who helped and supported us, we are still up and running despite everything», — Anya Sarang, ARF president
Some quick fundraising recap of the past few months:
What is more, we are expanding our team! A volunteer coordinator Rita joined us in August, and now we aim to systemize and develop our volunteer work. Also this month a driver for our outreach bus Yaroslav has joined! And it is a big step for us in making our outreach work more sustainable and efficient.
Last but not least, remember our Family project? Under this project we support families of our participants with kids in order to help them spend more time together. Annually we help families to get ready for the school year. This time 15 families got our help — check out the attached pictures by our volunteers. Additionally, we collected the school supplies for our participants’ families in collaboration with the Moscow independent space ‘delai kulturu’.
What is next?
Next week GlobalGiving is running a Little by Little matching campaign for any donations under $50. It will last 5 days, from 7am September 13th till 7am September 18th (all time is GMT+3, Moscow time).
All unique per donor donations under $50 will be doubled! So if you want to double your impact this season, then save the date: 13.09-18.09!
AND ONCE AGAIN THANK YOU!
Best regard and take care,
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.
We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.
Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.Start a Fundraiser