Advocacy based on evidence: HIV/AIDS NGOs in Kaliningrad
It is not often the case that issues of Russian domestic policy are discussed in the European Parliament, particularly when concerning the level of one region of the Russian Federation. Kaliningrad, however, is an exception. An enclave in the enlarged European Union since 2004, the region’s problems – including illicit drug trade and the spread of HIV/AIDS – are seen as a potential threat to regional security and therefore have also drawn the attention of political decision-makers in Brussels, as the above-mentioned statement from an EU report of the year 2000 indicates. Among the soft security threats in the Kaliningrad region, its rampant HIV/AIDS epidemic is just one problem out of many. However, due to increasing trans-border mobility, it is evident that the epidemic does not only affect the population of Kaliningrad, but might also spill over to neighbouring EU countries. This chapter will discuss the work of HIV/AIDS NGOs in Russia’s most Western region Kaliningrad. It will thereby follow the same structure as the previous two case studies, Tomsk and St. Petersburg. In the following, first the HIV/AIDS situation in Kaliningrad and the governmental response to the epidemic will be characterised. Second, the work of the HIV/AIDS NGOs will be described and analysed on the basis of the analytical framework presented in Chapter 6. This analysis will look into the ways local organisations have framed the epidemic and positioned themselves in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Moreover, it will be investigated how the organisations have mobilised resources, cooperated with state institutions and generated societal support for their work. Finally, the chapter will discuss the influence strategies of HIV/AIDS NGOs with regard to HIV/AIDS policy-making in the region of Kaliningrad. This will allow us to assess their contribution to the fight against Russia’s HIV/AIDS epidemic. Field work in Kaliningrad region took place in October 2008. During a visit to the region, in-depth interviews with representatives of HIV/AIDS NGOs as
well as state health care institutions were conducted. Moreover, statistical data from the Regional AIDS Centre, project documentations from the NGOs, information material, as well as newspaper articles concerning the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the region of Kaliningrad were analysed. The case study focuses on the work of four local HIV/AIDS NGOs: the grassroots organisations YuLA, Help Now and Next Generation, as well as the initiative group of PLWH Crossroads. Each organisation has a specific perspective on HIV/AIDS prevention programmes. In addition, the Regional AIDS Centre, the Kaliningrad branch of the Russian Red Cross, the faith-based NGO Caritas and the state-run drug prevention centre Growth were visited and their staff interviewed about their HIV/ AIDS prevention work. Altogether, the interviews with HIV/AIDS organisations provided insight into the cooperation between civil society actors and state organisations in the field of HIV/AIDS and highlighted the difficulties of developing a response to the epidemic in Kaliningrad region.