When I first read the news yesterday, I thought it's an intentional (and cleverly made) provocation - a made up story - by environmentalist in Armenia to use names of current and former first ladies to attract more attention and publicity to their cause. Today with all these photocopies of signatures and statements (as per above and below), if confirmed (see, I am still cautious, want to hear confirmations from the first ladies themselves), this could be the most hilarious news of the day.
UPDATE: (4 June 09) First ladies retracted their signature. (see also comments section below)
Armenia’s current and former first ladies have signed a petition against a controversial mining project approved by their husbands, ecologists strongly opposed to its implementation said on Wednesday.
The country’s leading environment protection groups and other non-governmental organizations have for years been campaigning against plans by the Armenian Copper Program (ACP) company to develop a massive copper and molybdenum deposit in the northern Lori region. The Teghut deposit is estimated to contain 1.6 million tons of copper and about 100,000 tons of molybdenum.
The project, if implemented, will lead to the destruction of 357 hectares of rich forest, including 128,000 trees. Critics say that would wreak further havoc on Armenia’s green areas that have already shrunk dramatically since the 1990s. [...]
The non-governmental Committee to Protect Teghut launched last month a fresh campaign against the mining project, collecting signatures in support of its stance. It said on Wednesday that a relevant petition addressed to Armenia’s president, prime minister and parliament speaker has already been signed by about 5,000 citizens, among them First Lady Rita Sarkisian and Kocharian’s wife Bella.
According to Mariam Sukhudian, a member of the committee, the two women agreed to sign the petition as they visited a public park in Yerevan on Tuesday. “We noticed Kocharian’s wife and the current first lady, Rita Sarkisian, there” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “One of our girls, Arpine, approached Bella Kocharian. As soon as she learned what the matter is, she took the paper and signed it. Rita said, ‘Is it about that copper-molybdenum thing?’ and signed it too.”
“We can say that, in a sense, they have joined our movement,” said Sukhudian. “We will scan their signatures and disseminate them through the Internet.” [...]