April 1 (RIA Novosti) – Bears roam the streets of Russian cities, runs a popular cliché. But a polar bear paddling down the Moscow River to the Kremlin on floating ice is too much even for this hackneyed stereotype.
Yet that was the very sight Muscovites were treated to on Monday morning – though, of course, the bear was actually a costumed Greenpeace activist protesting against drilling for oil in the Arctic.
The “bear” paddled along the river by the Kremlin on a tiny float disguised as a chunk of ice and adorned with a banner reading “Arctic Not For Sale,” Greenpeace Russia said on its website.
The costumed activist was eventually brought to the shore by an emergency services motorboat and handed over to police.
The police patrol briefly detained him, but let him go without any charges, though not before taking plenty of photos of the “bear,” the report said, without releasing his “human” name.
The bear protest kickstarted Greenpeace’s latest Arctic campaign, aimed against plans by Russia’s Rosneft and Norway’s Statoil to jointly drill for oil in the northern Barents Sea.
Greenpeace claims the state-run Rosneft – incidentally, Russia’s biggest taxpayer – has the worst track record on oil spills among all Russian oil companies, with about 10,000 spills a year.
The watchdog has launched a petition against the Rosneft-Statoil partnership, which is expected to be formalized in mid-May. Rosneft also plans to drill in the Kara Sea in the Russian Arctic together with ExxonMobil, a deal done in 2011 and expanded in February.
Greenpeace has taken on oil companies over the Arctic before, and come out victorious: Last year, it forced Russia’s Gazprom to drop its plans to drill for oil in the northern Pechora Sea. Costumed “polar bears” picketed the company’s Moscow office at the time, and environmental activists stormed Gazprom’s oil platform in the Pechora Sea, stopping its operations for hours.
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