It must have come as no surprise to Russian Greenpeace activists to be arrested for just standing on Red Square. Their August 6th demonstration, in which 50 crosses with radiation symbols marked the 50th anniversary of Hiroshima, was just one of many to fall afoul of Russian authorities.
The organization was denied permission to hold a meeting, and a few minutes after it began it was broken up by police. Most journalists present had film and tapes confiscated, under the pretext that all filming on Red Square had to be approved by the Kremlin commandant or the Presidential administration.
This heavy-handedness by the authorities is part of a long-standing tradition here of hostility to environmental consciousness, and goes a long way to explaining Greenpeace’s popularity in Russia, a nation with a built-in distrust of its rulers. In fact, what makes Greenpeace so relevant today in Russia is the absent tradition of environmental consciousness and activism. The organization’s commitment and aggressive tactics are geared toward maximum affect with a minimum of resources.