"Under the pretext of environmental protection, Greenpeace impedes the development of projects that are necessary for the development of Russia's economy," believes Sergei Fesenko, an expert of the Rating center for information communications.
According to him, in fact, the actions of American greens are aimed at destroying the Russian economy. This is the reason for the interference of this organization in the political and economic decisions of the Russian authorities and businesses.
Vladimir Putin has recently commented on the influence of foreign environmental groups on Russian domestic politics in his interviews with the media. At a meeting with members of the Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, replying to a question from Sergei Tsyplenkov, the executive director of the Russian branch of Greenpeace, about the development of protected areas in Russia, the Russian President said, "They still promote there this idea that we should not do anything – to create new ski resorts or to use lands for economic purposes. Even if we provide reproduction of additional areas, which are adjacent to specially protected territories. Or, for example, if we plant a certain number of trees which we remove when laying certain mainlines, highways, or other infrastructure facilities. We are not allowed to do anything. This is done to avoid the development of our country."
At the end of 2020, Putin signed amendments that Greenpeace activists fiercely fought against. They are related to the law on protected natural areas and give residents of settlements located near the boundaries of these territories the opportunity to use them more freely. Chances are Greenpeace supporters will voice their opinion about the way Russia disposes of its lands. The organization's interference in Russia's affairs and in the decisions of both the authorities and businesses continues for years upon years.
The actions of Greenpeace activists have been always provocative and sometimes even audacious. The first protest action was held by Greenpeace on September 15, 1971, which became day became the date of its foundation. The U.S. government was going to conduct underground nuclear tests in Alaska but the activists managed to stop them. In the last 50 years, Greenpeace activists have to great lengths with their escapades -- they took over the industrial facilities of different countries and interfering with their work. However, the question arises: did something happen between Greenpeace and the U.S. authorities when activists stopped bringing claims against the U.S. government and turned their attention to other countries?
Greenpeace activists have always been quite aggressive with regard to Russia. They staged their first trick in September 2013. They tried to land from the Arctic Sunrise icebreaker on a Russian oil platform in the Arctic causing a real mayhem. Their actions were repelled by the Federal Security Service. Then Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev condemned the outrageous action of environmentalists. "My attitude to these actions is the same as to hostage-taking,” he said. “I don't think it was good because one should always behave within the framework of existing laws.”
Commenting on the Greenpeace attack, The Daily Mail columnist Dominic Lawson, called them “a gang of well-meaning fools seeking to drive mankind back into pre-industrial poverty.”
Yelena Borisova, the coordinator of the Moscow branch of the Russian Anti-Globalization Resistance and Doctor of Philological Sciences, said that Greenpeace had a keen interest in money. "Of course, Greenpeace needs funding,” she said. “And it gets it. The existing system of public relations allows, let’s put it that way, to create the impression of independent functioning. It means that direct demands, such as ‘we give you money if you interfere in somebody’s business,’ are not always made. To a large extent, this is all concealed from the participants of an action and even from Greenpeace employees. However, since we get in touch with them a lot, we know many things – which information is available for them and which is not.
Interestingly, this Greenpeace action coincided with the publication of the U.S. national security concept where the United States labeled the Arctic as a strategically important target. In fact, the Greenpeace activists were fighting not for ecology but against big businesses in Russia, namely, Gazprom and Rosneft, the big rivals of the U.S., that would get huge profits from oil production in the Arctic.
"In the fact that Greenpeace assaulted our platform in the Arctic, we clearly see competitive actions. The organization acted illegally. That is why they paid for it," says geopolitical scientist Leonid Ivashov.
Between 2009 and 2017, almost 50 major industrial projects in Russia were either stopped or involved in conflicts. It happened precisely because of this kind of “environmental extremism.” Political scientists Sergei Mikheev, Maxim Zharov, and Igor Ryabov said in their report ‘Eco-Protection or Eco-Attack: Political Ecologists in Russia and the World’ published in 2018 that the environmentalists used “legal and political technologies implemented to stop large infrastructure campaigns” in at least six Russian regions.
A few years ago, for example, eco-activists began "to harass" retail chains. In 2011, Greenpeace launched the Green Supermarket Food Hygiene rating, requiring retailers to work with packaging and waste products properly. Auchan was the first to be affected. Greenpeace activists deployed banners saying "Auchan! Stop selling trash!" The retail group instantly sued the eco-activists in order to protect the honor and dignity of the company. Not so long ago, in 2019, Greenpeace demanded that the retailers stop handing out single-use packed gifts at the cash register and that customers should not take them. Another trash-related campaign by Greenpeace was held in the retail groups Pyaterochka, Magnit, Perekrestok, Lenta, and Dixy.
In October 2014, Greenpeace Russia demanded to cancel the construction of the Pacific Fleet base on the territory of the Wrangel Island State Nature Reserve. In 2016, eco-activists attacked the Independent Oil and Gas Company belonging to Eduard Khudainatov, the former vice president of Rosneft, for developing the Tanalau field in Taimyr.
Greenpeace paid much attention to the construction of the Nord Stream-2 pipeline. Environmental activists fought against the project. They even made their correspondence with the government publicly available.
In 2017, Sergey Chemezov, the CEO of Rostec Corporation, complained that eco-activists were hindering the construction of five garbage incinerators in Russia. According to him, these plants are based on modern and safe technologies. Chemezov said that Greenpeace was directly financed from abroad and their activities were contrary to the interests of Russia.
Predictably, Pre-Olympic construction in Sochi was in activists’ spotlight, too. In 2017, they began to vigorously oppose the construction of both residential complexes and new ski resorts near Krasnaya Polyana. Among other things, they cited possible damage to nature and, in particular, to the population of the rare Persian leopard. The companies controlling the construction responded that all their plans complied with nature conservation laws.
In 2019, Greenpeace made troubles for Rosatom, a Russian state corporation headquartered in Moscow that specializes in nuclear energy. Even the residents of the Far-Eastern Primorsky (Maritime) territory were enticed into the fight against the corporation. Eco-activists informed them about the construction of a long-term radioactive waste storage center in the area.
Also in December 2019, Greenpeace activists made an installation of 11 yellow and black barrels with radiation signs saying "Happy New Year!" outside the Gostiny Dvor metro in St. Petersburg protesting against the importation of radioactive waste into Russia.
According to Mikhail Delyagin, a political scientist, economist and the head of the Institute of Globalization Problems, Greenpeace is not the only eco-organization that aggressively interferes in Russia's economic and political affairs. "The World Wildlife Fund makes an even more frightening impression than Greenpeace. If Greenpeace is a bunch of loudmouths with posters who create scandals, then the WWF has huge political influence. It is more closely tied to serious political elites than Greenpeace being a more dangerous force for the economic life of Russia and its residents.”
The WWF, like Greenpeace, once intervened in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. "Environmentalists do not think about the interests of fish, shrimp and crabs of the Baltic Sea or those of the industry. They serve the interests of specific gas producers across the Atlantic," says Vasily Koltashov, the head of the Center for Political Economy Research. He recalled that the WWF is not an independent organization at all. It supports the policies of the United States and the UK.
The WWF managed to change the route of an underwater pipeline laid by Sakhalin Energy in Sakhalin island. Activists forced the company to remove the pipes from whale habitats. The foundation stopped the Evenkiya hydropower plant construction project. The construction of all dams on the main arm of the Amur river was excluded from the Russian Far East development plans. The construction of the terminal for the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline in Perevoznaya Bay was halted and banned. The route of the pipeline was moved from the shores of Lake Baikal. It was also made due to the active struggle of the WWF against the project.
When discussing whether the aggressive actions of environmental groups in general and Greenpeace in particular could be considered extremist, Mikhail Delyagin said: "When environmentalists violate public order and effective laws of certain countries, they are regarded as extremists without any doubt.
“Environmental extremism has existed for a long time. It is not a brand new movement. It is used by all interested parties because there is a huge difference when one protects nature or destroys a competing industry.”
For example, says Mikhail Delyagin, the “greens” have been a respectable political party in Germany since the early 1980s. They expect successful prospects for themselves. "In the second half of this year, if the current tendency continues, they are likely to seize power in Germany. After that, they may destroy the German industry. Formally they will act in the interests of the environment but actually in the interests of its US competitors.
"Ecology has long been used to solve economic and political issues,” Delyagin said making an assessment of the actions of eco-activists and their genuine interests, “because a big economy is always a big politics.”