20 years under Putin: a timeline

On November 23rd, an exhibition of New York photographer Mikhail Friedman depicting the lives of HIV/AIDS and TB patients in Russia, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine, will open at Moscow’s Fotosoyuz Gallery; and on November 27th, the Sakharov Center will host a conference dedicated to the memory of Vasily Aleksanyan. Both events form part of the Institute of Modern Russia’s project “HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis: IMR Against Social Indifference.”


At a municipal clinic for the homeless. St. Petersburg, Russia.           © Misha Friedman


The number of HIV-positive people officially registered in Russia stands at some 660,000, with the situation having greatly deteriorated in recent years. The irresponsible attitude of the Russian government toward the socially vulnerable group suffering from these diseases is among the country’s gravest problems. In most first-world nations, HIV/AIDS and TB have been placed under state control and have ceased to be taboo subjects. This is not the case in Russia and many other former Soviet republics, where the authorities are not only ignoring this problem, but are actively suppressing the information on it.

Earlier this year, the Institute of Modern Russia (IMR) launched a project entitled “HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis: IMR Against Social Indifference.” The project is dedicated to the memory of Vasily Aleksanyan, a prominent Russian lawyer, who was imprisoned in the YUKOS case and tragically passed away in October 2011, at the age of thirty-nine, after a long struggle with HIV/AIDS.

The IMR’s project aims to raise awareness of this grave situation among Russian and international civil societies, and to stimulate the efforts of political and human rights activists, the media, and all those who advocate for HIV/AIDS and TB sufferers in Russia. As a part of this initiative, the IMR organized a series of photo exhibitions depicting the everyday lives of HIV/AIDS and TB patients.


Former YUKOS Vice President Vasily Aleksanyan (right), who was diagnosed with AIDS, tuberculosis, liver cancer and lymphoma, was promised release from prison in return for false testimony against Mikhail Khodorkovsky (left). He never agreed. Aleksanyan was eventually released on bail, and died three years later.


The author of the works showcased at theses exhibitions is New York photographer Mikhail Friedman. Since 2008, he has been documenting the lives and inadequate treatment of HIV / AIDS and TB patients in the post-Soviet countries.

In the autumn of 2011, with IMR support, Friedman expanded his project, photographing TB hospitals in St. Petersburg and Togliatti. His works were presented at exhibitions in New York, Washington D.C., Paris, Delhi, and Sarajevo. From November 23rd to December 8th, they will be on display in Moscow’s Fotosoyuz Gallery.

On November 27th, the Sakharov Center in Moscow will host a conference dedicated to the memory of Vasily Aleksanyan. The IMR’s Senior Policy Advisor, Vladimir Kara-Murza, will speak at the event. During the conference, the IMR will also present a slide show of Mikhail Friedman’s photographs of HIV/AIDS and TB patients.

Fotosouyz Gallery:
5 Pokrovka Street, Moscow
(Metro stations: Chistye Prudy, or Kitay-Gorod)
Working hours: Tuesday to Friday — 15.00-19.00, Saturday — 13.00-19.00
Closed: Sunday, Monday.
Exhibition Opening: Friday, November 23rd, 6pm

Sakharov Center:
57, building 6, Zemlyanoy Val, Moscow
(Metro stations: Kurskaya, Chkalovskaya, Taganskaya)
Conference: Tuesday, November 27th, 10.00am-4pm