This week, Russia will host the 2018 World Cup, one of the biggest international sporting events in the world. The country will play host to millions of tourists across the 11 host cities within the Russian Federation. Those visiting will be able to attend matches in Moscow, the capital city, as well as in tourist hubs like St. Petersburg, and lesser known regions like Saransk and Yekaterinburg. Given the significant influx of foreigners scheduled to visit these cities, regional governments have begun the long process of implementing cosmetic changes that would mask the glaring deficiencies in each of their cities. These changes include cleaning the streets, painting old houses and buildings, relocating homeless people, and slaughtering stray animals.
The culling of stray animals has even caused a schism within the Russian population. 1.8 million people signed a petition against the killing of stray animals, while protests are being held in several cities. Even notable Russian actors have spoken out against the campaigns. However, while the brutal slaughter of stray animals has been met with significant domestic and international resistance, those defending the animals continue to fight an uphill battle.
Killing stray animals is a lucrative business in Russia. Companies compete for municipal contracts that pay a set fee per animal killed. According to reports, Yekaterinburg paid a municipal waste management company over $533,000 in December 2017 to capture more than 4,500 dogs. The Moscow Times reported that the dogs were held up to two weeks before being euthanized.