Environmental protection and climate change are the most important issues facing humanity today. Indifference towards them can deprive future generations of the human right to live a healthy life on planet earth. The international community pays great attention to these concerns and wealthy countries allocate millions of dollars to fight against climate change and environmental pollution.

Many non-governmental organizations and individuals deal with these issues to bring them to the attention of governmental agencies and the public in general in Armenia as well.

After the popular revolution of 2018, there was a major uproar around the Amulsar gold mine, and a group of environmentalists started a protest campaign against it, on the ground that the operation of the mine will harm the nearby water resources. For months, the protesters kept the roads leading to the mine closed, and managed to force the new administration to temporarily cease the operation of the mine. In response, the government ordered an independent study to determine the impact of the mine on the environment. Nearly $400 thousand USD were allocated for this purpose. In the end, the study concluded that the risks stemming from the operation of the mine will be minimal and manageable. Nevertheless, the mine, which could have provided hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to the state, remained closed and continues to do so to this day.

Recently, “Fact investigating Platform” published an analysis, uncovering that some of the activists protesting against Amulsar indirectly were receiving funds from the largest mining company in Armenia, the Zangezur Copper-Molybdenum Company. According to the investigative reporting, the co-owner of the company, the former governor of Syunik, and the current MP of the opposition “Hayastan” faction, Vahe Hakobyan, made donations to the “Public Diplomacy” charitable organization headed by his wife, which in turn, financed those activists. Thus, it becomes obvious that the protests against the Amulsar gold mine were orchestrated by a competing mining company.

At that time, we at “Massis” relying on the information provided to us by those “environmentalists,” published columns on this subject, and called for the termination of the operation of the gold mine.

Some of the activists, while not denying the fact of receiving money, told the “Fact investigating Platform” that they were not aware of the true source of the money they were getting. Whatever the case, their action deals a big blow to the environmental protection movement in Armenia in general, which has an important role to play in keeping these important issues at the forefront of the public’s and the government’s attention.

After these revelations, it is unclear how the government of Armenia and the company operating the mine will act moving forward, but undoubtedly, Armenian environmental watchdog groups’ credibility has suffered immensely with the actions of some of its members.

K. KHODANIAN
“MASSIS”

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