In the video below, which may be disturbing to some viewers, a man in a lab coat holds a black and tan dachshund in his arms. Another man wearing a suit and tie explains:
We use a liquid that is heavily saturated with oxygen. We now submerge the animal into the experimental liquid.
And with that, the dog is dunked headfirst into a tank filled with liquid and left there for about a minute, squirming desperately.
All this was part of a demonstration put on in late December 2017 for the visiting Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić by the Russian deputy prime minister and head of the defense industry, Dmitry Rogozin.
Its goal was to showcase the latest developments in “liquid breathing”, wherein oxygen-enriched liquid is shown to allow those submerged (voluntarily or otherwise) to breathe and take in oxygen normally.
The dachshund was eventually taken out of the breathable liquid and held vertically upside-down afterwards, shaking and coughing, with the liquid visibly streaming out of its nose and mouth (watch the video above at your own peril.)
The video immediately drew the ire of Russians and international commenters alike, with presidential hopeful Alexey Navalny adding his two cents on his weekly livestreamed show:
Несчастная такса, естественно, думала — что ж такое, я только что сидела на ручках, видела каких-то важных людей — и вдруг меня топят, эти люди меня пытаются убить, и сейчас я умру. И такса решила умереть, и начала глотать этот воздух, вернее, эту воду. Но она была обогащена кислородом, поэтому такса не сдохла, её вытащили, её рвало на глазах у всех… Ну да, мы, конечно, не лицемерные люди, мы отдаем себе отчет, что есть опыты на животных. Но ведь не проводят опыты на таксах! Есть животные, на которых опыты проводят — крысы, например. Я сегодня думал, что скажу в эфире: “опыты на таксах не проводят”, загуглил — “опыты на таксах”, а гугл мне в ужасе выдал — возможно, вы имели в виду “опыты на крысах”.
The poor dachshund certainly thought: Jesus Christ, what is this, I was just sitting in someone’s arms in front of some really important people and all of a sudden, they’re drowning me, these people are trying to murder me, I'm going to die. And so the dachshund was ready to die, she started gulping this air, or this water. But the water was enriched with oxygen, so the dachshund didn't die, they pulled her out and she started throwing up this water in front of everyone… Well, of course, we are not hypocrites, we understand that some experiments involve animals. But they don't use dachshund as guinea pigs! There are certain animals you use to that end — rats, for example. As I was preparing for this show, I googled “animal testing on dachshunds”, and the horror-struck Google responded: “Did you mean animal testing on rats?”
‘Rogozin and company drowned a dog…and are now trotting out an imposter’
Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin’s aide refused to comment on the matter, though the outcry must have gotten to Rogozin himself, because on New Year’s Eve, he posted a picture with his wife, their dog, and the newly adopted dachshund, purportedly the very same one from the video:
Дмитрий, Татьяна, Николас и Пончо Рогозины поздравляют вас, друзья, с наступающим Новым Годом! Пусть жизнь в Новом 2018 году вас не кусает, не гавкает на вас, а лишь только ободряюще хвостом виляет! pic.twitter.com/OQWZrcGqxA
— Дмитрий Рогозин (@Rogozin) 31 декабря 2017 г.
Dmitry, Tatyana, Nikolas and Poncho Rogozin wish you, friends, a Happy New Year! May 2018 not bite or bark at you, but only wag its encouraging tail!
Nikolas is the name of the dachshund subjected to the experiment and then adopted by Rogozin. Russian state TV media went out of their way to highlight the dog's heroism, its good health and defiant spirits, and how it helped advance important scientific breakthroughs such as improving the survival chances of seamen trapped in sunken submarines.
The above PR antics, however, did little to quench the increasingly morbid rumors. Russian internet sleuths were all over the dog’s first public appearances since the unsettling demonstration. Drawing upon this photo and stills from the video shot at the demonstration, one user came to the conclusion that we were looking at an entirely different dog:
Рогозин и компания утопили собаку, нашли другую таксу и впаривают подмену. Настоящая мертва. pic.twitter.com/PVED5x4lAS
— Rig Sec (@Rigsector) 2 января 2018 г.
Rogozin and company drowned a dog, found a different dachshund, and are now trotting out an imposter. The real one is dead.
The tweet, which quickly went viral, probably derives its conclusions from a remark made on New Year's Day by Anton Krasovsky, a Russian journalist, on Echo of Moscow, an opposition radio network:
Кстати, эта такса умерла, через четыре дня, после того, как ее притопил человек с образованием журфака Рогозин, который сейчас управляет всей военной индустрией в России.
And, by the way, the dachshund died four days after being drowned by Rogozin, a journalism school graduate who today happens to be running the entire Russia's defense industry.
The dachshund lives?
Other Twitter users attempted to explain the probable cause of death in a more scientific way:
К сожалению оригинальная такса уже мертва – отёк лёгких после перфторуглерода у млекопитающих развивается в течение 6-8 часов. Собственно поэтому разработки и были остановлены.
— Рассадник Оптимизма (@Dor_Perforator) 2 января 2018 г.
Unfortunately, the original dachshund is already dead. Mammals develop pulmonary edema about 6-8 hours after exposure to fluorocarbons [oxygen-enriched liquid]. That’s actually why these research projects were discontinued.
TJournal, a Russian internet news site, carried out its own investigation and came to the conclusion that, on the basis of a second post-experiment photo, this actually was the same dachshund, seemingly alive and well in Rogozin's arms.
If you were outraged by the video, take heart. Regardless of whether Rogozin did indeed adopt the dachshund, it would seem he got his comeuppance, albeit retroactively. Earlier in December 2017, before the breathable liquid demonstration, Russia launched a rocket from its new (but already mired in numerous corruption controversies) Vostochny Cosmodrome, a spaceport in the country's Far East.
As part of his portfolio as head of the defense industry, Rogozin is ultimately responsible for Russia’s space program. Unfortunately for him and the projects he oversees, human programmers input the wrong launch coordinates, and after a successful delivery into space, lost contact with the satellite that was on board.