Allegations have resurfaced that Anti-Fracking activists in Europe are on Russia’s payroll, according to a NY Times news article. That article focuses on the anti-fracking protest focused on Pungesti Romania, which I’ve covered in-depth last winter. The claim is that if the anti-frackers are successful in banning fracking, they’re doing Russia’s bidding by ensuring Europe will be dependent on Russia’s natural gas, and therefore the anti-frackers must be getting support from Russia.
A version of this idea surfaced last July when then-NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen claimed that Russia is using “sophisticated information and disinformation operations” to engage with environmental organizations and other anti-fracking organizations, to tilt the political climate in Europe against hydraulic fracturing, so that Europe would remain dependent on Russian natural gas.
|Romania PM Victor Ponta|
The NY Times piece says “Gazprom, a state-controlled energy giant, has a clear interest in preventing countries dependent on Russian natural gas from developing their own alternative supplies of energy, they say, preserving a lucrative market for itself — and a potent foreign policy tool for the Kremlin.”
Iulian Iancu, chairman of the Romanian Parliament’s industry committee, described by the NY Times as “a firm believer that Russia has had a hand in stirring opposition to shale gas exploration across Eastern Europe” is quoted as saying “It is crucial for Russia to keep this energy dependence. It is playing a dirty game.” Iancu doesn’t have proof for his allegation, however.
Romanian PM Victor Ponta is quoted saying “Energy is the most effective weapon today of the Russian Federation — much more effective than aircraft and tanks.”
The proof offered by the NY Times article?
|Romanian anti-fracking protesters
tearing down the fence surrounding Chevron’s
drilling site in Pungesti
Next is a curious contrast between the vehement protests against Chevron’s fracking operation, but no protest against a fracking operation in far western Romania owned by Nis, a subsidiary of Gazprom. Strong protests against an American Fracker, but none against a Russian Fracker? Curious. The NY Times does say that “protest leaders” answer to this complaint is that anti-Chevron protests were because they were about to start exploratory drilling (which Chevron eventually did), while Nis is only doing “geological survey work” ahead of any decision to drill.
The last is attributed to Anca-Maria Cernea, a leader of a conservative political group in Bucharest. While she has no proof, she’s sure that the Russians are behind the protests. She does note the activist groups working against Fracking generally don’t work together, but united on this issue. Some of the groups do have ties to “the heavily Russian influenced security apparatus in neighboring Moldova,” according to Ms. Cernea. Also, Russian news media (especially RT News) were very active in covering the protests.
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