Ukraine has long had a tricky relationship with guns. In the course of its post-Soviet history, it has been the only country in Europe without legislation governing the civilian possession of firearms. More than a dozen laws have been proposed, but none have been passed by parliament. Instead, Ukrainian gun ownership is regulated by ordinances overseen by the interior ministry. Officially, the only legal way to own a firearm in Ukraine today is to acquire a rifle for hunting or sporting purposes; handguns are banned, available only to security guards and certain categories of state officials.
A man walks past burning vehicles in a square near a railway station after shelling in rebel-controlled Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, on August A vegetable vendor sits in a square as smoke rises after shelling, reportedly by the Ukrainian army, in rebel-controlled Donetsk on Aug. A burned trolley bus lies on a square near a railway station after shelling in Donetsk on Aug. Ukrainian army servicemen ride in the dust near Debaltseve, in the Donetsk region, on Aug.
Dogs and cats -- hundreds of them -- were being rounded up and killed in such "brutal" ways that Tarnavska says she doesn't want to describe the disturbing scene again. It was a "killing factory," Tarnavska says, where "animal hunters" had for decades taken strays to be "liquidated. More than 21 years later, Tarnavska, a Kyiv-born Norwegian who says she's loved animals since she was a child, still heads the SOS International Animal Protection Society, an animal-rights group in the Ukrainian capital. Since then, she estimates she's saved more than 20, dogs and cats from the streets and the clutches of their would-be killers. All of them have been spayed or neutered in an attempt to help Ukraine get its stray-animal problem under control.
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