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Polar Bear Protest Ends in Arrest

8 September 2012 Leave a comment

In a symbolic protest Greenpeace activists  dressed as polar bears were arrested by Russian police. The protesters were blocking access to the Gazprom headquarters in Moscow with blocks of melting ice. 10 people were arrested, 4 of whom were dressed as polar bears. The protest was staged in objection to drilling projects in the Barents Sea, and comes just days after the European Commission launched an anti-trust investigation into a 2009 event when the Russian state-owned Gazprom cut supply to Ukraine over pricing disputes.

This appears to be an opportunistic protest with Greenpeace seizing a moment when Gazprom is already in the spotlight for dubious monopolistic/politically-motivated actions, unrelated to environmental concerns. Greenpeace is calling for an Arctic nature preserve that would prohibit natural resource exploitation and industrial fishing, and is largely absent from economic debates.

Russia, a dominant player in global hydrocarbons, is especially dominant in the European natural gas market. The investigation is focused on Gazprom’s operations in Eastern Europe. The proximity of these countries to Russia and the nature of the commodity itself  presents Gazprom with a natural monopoly. The actions of concern are whether or not Gazprom used this advantage to unjustly control prices, and/or to control supply for political advantage. Russia already has pipeline infrastructure supplying natural gas to Europe, and much of Europe is already dependent upon Russian natural gas, so it is in the interest of both parties to find an amicable solution. The economic issues in discussion are Gazprom’s real issues this week, but Arrested Polar Bears make for a much better picture than Economic Discussions.

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Categories: Economics, Energy Tags: , ,