Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Armenia's first ladies ‘oppose’ mining project endorsed by their husbands

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)

*via RFE/RL:

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.” [...]


melody said...

wow woow! then i wonder why doesnt this make a bigger noise???

Anonymous said...

the news was carried by a few papers but the first ladies have aleady retracted their statements.

Anonymous said...

FYI, first lady Mrs. Sargsyan has retracted her earlier statement.

artmika said...

I could feel this coming, something was not quite there in all this story.

artmika said...

ArmeniaNow: Double move over Teghut: What are the former and current first ladies of Armenia against?

Armenia’s former and current first ladies made environmentalists happy by effectively joining their longstanding campaign against a major industry project that conservationists say has a damaging environmental effect. Only several days later they realized they had put their signatures to a document they did not quite understand the essence of.

Several days ago the signatures of ex-first lady Bella Kocharyan and current first lady Rita Sargsyan appeared next to the signatures of 5,000 supporters collected by activists of the Teghut Protection Group in favor of the struggle against the destruction of the Teghut forest and establishment of a copper-molybdenum mine there, one of the most controversial environmental issue of recent years in Armenia.

In putting their first-lady hands to the petition, they inadvertently opposed the signatures of their husbands who, as heads of state signed orders paving the way for development of the mine.

Assistant to the current first lady Vika Voskanyan confirmed that the ladies had signed the documents but insisted that they did not fully know what they were signing.

“They were simply asked whether they join their campaign of protection of green areas. And they singed as citizens and not as wives of the presidents,” Voskanyan said.

However one of the environmental campaigners, Mariam Sukhudyan, insists the ladies were aware what they were signing, moreover, Rita Sargsyan, as she says, made a clarification: “You mean the problem of Teghut mines?” And she got an affirmative reply, according to Sukhadyan. [...]

“So they (the first ladies) were against the program, which is implemented thanks to their husbands. And seeing their act Armenian showbiz celebrities – Shushan Petrosyan, Leyla Saribekyan joined them,” says environmentalist Sukhudyan. [...]