Russia intends to file piracy charges against Greenpeace after campaigners tried to climb onto an offshore drilling platform in the Arctic. Per the Associated Press:
Two activists tried to climb onto the Prirazlomnaya platform on Thursday and others assisted from small inflatable boats. The Greenpeace protest was aimed at calling attention to the environmental risks of drilling for oil in Arctic waters.
“When a foreign vessel full of electronic technical equipment of unknown purpose and a group of people calling themselves members of an environmental rights organization try nothing less than to take a drilling platform by storm, logical doubts arise about their intentions,” Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said in a statement.
Initially, this brought to mind the immortal scene from Naked Gun:
Mayor: Now Drebin, I don’t want any trouble like you had on the South Side last year. That’s my policy.
Frank: Well, when I see five weirdos, dressed in togas, stabbing a man in the middle of the park in full view of a hundred people, I shoot the bastards! That’s my policy!
Mayor: That was a Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar, you moron! You killed five actors! Good ones!
Nevertheless, Russia’s reaction does seem reasonable. Greenpeace argues that “peaceful activism is crucial when governments around the world have failed to respond to dire scientific warnings about the consequences of climate change in the Arctic and elsewhere.” Certainly, this would makes sense as a justification for a protest. But how is one supposed to determine the intentions of the activists when they go further? Are governments supposed to presume that illegally climbing onto drilling platforms is okay providing that the climbers consider it to be important enough?
As Markin argued, “Such activities not only infringe on the sovereignty of a state, but might pose a threat to the environmental security of the whole region.” This seems reasonable. Why should Greenpeace be exempted?