[W]hen the American energy giant Chevron showed up…last year and leased a plot of land he owned for exploratory shale gas drilling…the encounter between big business and rural Romania quickly turned into a nightmare. The village became a magnet for activists from across the country opposed to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Violent clashes broke out between the police and protesters. The mayor, one of the few locals who sided openly with Chevron, was run out of town, reviled as a corrupt sellout in what activists presented as a David versus Goliath struggle between impoverished farmers and corporate America.
“I was really shocked,” recalled the mayor, who is now back at his office on Pungesti’s main, in fact only, street. “We never had protesters here and suddenly they were everywhere.”
Pointing to a mysteriously well-financed and well-organized campaign of protest, Romanian officials including the prime minister say that the struggle over fracking in Europe does feature a Goliath, but it is the Russian company Gazprom, not the American Chevron. …
“Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called nongovernmental organizations — environmental organizations working against shale gas — to maintain dependence on imported Russian gas,” Mr. Rasmussen said. He…said the judgment was based on what NATO allies had reported.