Streetwise Professor

June 19, 2014

From the Files of Captain Obvious: Russia Funds Anti-Fracking Groups

Filed under: Economics,Energy,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 8:16 pm

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has asserted publicly that Russia is covertly funding and coordinating with anti-fracking environmental groups in Europe:

“I have met allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organisations – environmental organisations working against shale gas – to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas,” Mr Rasmussen, former Danish prime minister, told an audience at Chatham House, the international affairs think-tank.

This is a classic KGB MO. One that was employed throughout the Cold War. Then peace and disarmament groups were the primary targets. No doubt the Russians have also covertly supported anti-fracking efforts here in the US, but Europe is the focus of their efforts because increased gas production on that continent competes directly with Russian gas, whereas US production is a very indirect, and somewhat distant, threat.

Europe is totally compromised by Russian influence operations, propaganda, and money.  With a few exceptions (e.g., the antitrust action against Gazprom) Europe has been completely feckless in its dealings with Russia. Its energy policies have been particularly self-destructive, putting the EU at the mercy of Russia for the foreseeable future. Some of these self-inflicted wounds would have been suffered even without direct Russian influence (energiewende, for instance, is largely the product of dreamy German romanticism about energy), but by co-opting European energy companies and manipulating European environmental sensitivities Russia has tightened its grip on European energy markets. It exploits this grip for both economic and political gain, with Ukraine being a prominent example of the latter.

I can only imagine the flack that Rasmussen is going to catch for this. For he has committed a mortal sin: speaking a very embarrassing truth. Killing the messenger is the usual remedy.

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  1. Must be quite nice for a lot of old Lefties these last few months. Firstly they are back to championing Russian military aggression and blaming it on western “provocation”, and now we hear Moscow is splashing the cash around again. It must feel just like the old times.

    Comment by Tim Newman — June 20, 2014 @ 2:23 am

  2. It doesn’t surprise me. The far “Left” and the far “Right” have egg all over their faces, and Russian propagandists have turned them into fools if they weren’t already. I’ve called both these anchors of the circular political spectrum out on my blog in numerous blog posts, but they’re like the Energizer Bunny — they just keep going, and going, and going — as though you’ve said nothing at all. As a result, I’ve settled on calling out their contradictions and laughing at them, although my satire is redundant since reality is now a satire.

    Also, I wonder if they had a hand in funding Gasland 1 & 2?

    Polonium-210 Tea With The Tsar

    Comment by Cold N Holefield — June 20, 2014 @ 12:24 pm

  3. You deleted my comment? How tyrannical of you. You will be front and center for my next blog post, you coward. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into you, metaphorically speaking of course, and tear you apart. Censorship is cowardice, but seeing as you’re an economist, that’s not surprising.

    Comment by Cold N. Holefield — June 20, 2014 @ 1:04 pm

  4. @Cold. Um, live up to your name and chill. I didn’t delete anything. It was held up by my spam filter. I do have other things to do besides moderate comments and just got to it now.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — June 20, 2014 @ 3:54 pm

  5. Speaking of Russian corruption and political extremists:

    Freedom Party of Austria: pro-Russian far right lobbyists and merchants of deception
    German version of this post can be found here: “Die Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs – rechte pro-russische Lobbyisten und Händler mit Täuschungen”.

    I wrote previously that Putin’s Russia cooperates with European far right parties partly because the latter help Russian political and business elites worm into the West economically, politically and socially, and that for them the far right’s racism and ultra-conservatism are less important then the far right’s corruptibility.

    Take, for example, late Jörg Haider. For some, he was the long-time leader of the far right Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs (FPÖ) and, later, the chairman of the Bündnis Zukunft Österreich. But for two Russian rich businessmen, Artyom Bikov and Aleksey Bobrov, Haider was a corrupt Governor of Carinthia who could be paid €900,000 in order to “assist” them in their naturalisation process. Imagine: the leader of an Austrian anti-immigration party took bribes to facilitate the acquisition of citizenship by non-Austrians.

    FPÖ, under the leadership of Heinz-Christian Strache, is also involved in dubious deals and processes which are partly ideological and partly financial. The links between FPÖ and Putin’s Russia are deep and numerous, so as a starting point let’s take an almost random event: the conference “Colour revolutions in the CIS countries and their current impact” that took place in Vienna on 4 June 2010 at the Imperial Hotel.

    As it could have been expected, everybody was discussing the “terrible” nature of the colour “revolutions” in Georgia (2003), Ukraine (2004) and Kyrgyzstan (2005). Strache particularly condemned the US that had allegedly orchestrated these revolutions with the help of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and National Democratic Institute (NDI). The presence of the representatives from the “affected countries” was not surprising: Georgia (Levan Pirveli), Ukraine (Vladyslav Lukyanov) and Kyrgyzstan (Bermet Akayeva).

    The Russian team consisted of MP Sergey Markov (Putin’s United Russia party) and two far right publicists: Geydar Dzhemal and Maksim Shevchenko. The latter, together with Pirveli, would be active in the workings of the Russian far right Florian Geyer club headed by Dzhemal. Its speakers included Russian fascists Aleksandr Dugin, Maksim Kalashnikov and Mikhail Leontyev, Swedish anti-Semite Israel Shamir, Russian “left-wing” activist Boris Kagarlitsky and Italian Nazi-Maoist Claudio Mutti among others.

    Also present at the conference in Vienna was Barbara Kappel, a member of FPÖ and, at that time, a member of the Vienna City Council. Moreover – and this is more interesting – she is a president of Austrian Technologies GmbH (founded in 2006), a federal agency for technology transfer and security research. In other words, Austrian Technologies GmbH promotes Austrian businesses abroad, but specifically in Russia where it operates through its branch headed by Julia Vitoslavsky. The latter also cooperates with the Austrian Chamber of Commerce and is a director of the Vienna-based Information Business Centre of Saint-Petersburg that is lobbying Russian business interests in Austria. However, Vitoslavsky does not seem to be engaged in far right politics and is, therefore, “normal” (apart from being involved in some weird “living energy” business).

    Kappel’s name often appears in connection with the FPÖ’s cooperation with the Russians. In September 2010, she was one of the top party members who welcomed 20 Russian orphan children who came from the Moscow Oblast to spend two weeks in East Tyrol under the patronage of FPÖ’s Tyrol chief Gerald Hauser.

    An act of philanthropy? Commenting on the Russian children’s visit to Austria, Strache said: “It is my humanitarian duty to offer our help to the Russian friends”. Who are these “Russian friends”? A possible answer to this question is provided by the FPÖ delegation’s visit to the Moscow Oblast in 2011. On 11 May 2011, Heinz-Christian Strache, Johann Gudenus, Johannes Hübner, Andreas Karlsböck and Barbara Kappel travelled to Moscow to meet Boris Gromov (together with Gerhard Zeiler, a representative from the Austrian Embassy in Russia) who was then the Governor of Moscow Oblast. During the meeting, Gromov thanked the leadership of the party for their assistance in arranging the Russian orphans’ trip to Austria and presented some souvenirs with the logo of the Moscow Oblast.

    At the same time, the composition of the meeting shed some light on the real motives behind the FPÖ’s philanthropic activities. Also present at the meeting was Tigran Karakhanov, then Minister of foreign economic relations of the Government of the Moscow Oblast, while Strache himself suggested that it was not all about helping Russian orphans: “Children are goodwill ambassadors, and it is through children that we hope to further develop cultural and economic cooperation with the Moscow Oblast”. Was the FPÖ’s “philanthropic act” some kind of a kickback?…

    In 2008-2010, Kappel and her Austrian Technologies GmbH contributed to the development of a classical pyramid scheme called Aquabionica. This is a company that sells “Bionic Products – innovative products nano-technology, developed in conjunction with the nature”. Aquabionica’s main markets are Russia, Ukraine and some other East European countries where people are more prone to deception and manipulation.

    It is, however, unlikely that the Kappel and FPÖ were trying to promote Aquabionica at the meeting with Gromov. While pyramid schemes do provide good opportunities for money laundering (especially in Austria), they are hardly the topic one would discuss with the Governor of Moscow Oblast. Most likely, it was something different – something that would involve FPÖ’s investments in the business structures of the Moscow Oblast.

    Comment by AP — June 20, 2014 @ 7:57 pm

  6. had it been economically feaseble shale gas would have been tackled by oil/gas companies in Europe. Although some attempts by FSB to bribe antifracking groups surely cant be excluded. Only example of organized protest that comes to the mind are protests in Romania. Doubt that FSB could have reach antifrackin groups in UK , Poland .

    Comment by erik — June 21, 2014 @ 12:13 pm

  7. Funny. Russians claim that Greenpeace are Western stooges.

    Comment by So? — June 23, 2014 @ 5:56 am

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