A group of environmental activists held a demonstration outside the main office of the Ameriabank in Yerevan on Tuesday, December 6 in protest of the bank’s US$24 million loan agreement with Lydian Armenia Company, a subsidiary of Lydian International Limited, for purchasing equipment at the Lydian-owned Amulsar Gold Project. Throughout the protest action, representatives of the bank management were asking the protesters not to block the entrance to the building and or interfere with the “normal work” of the bank, otherwise they threatening to call the police; reporters, for their part, were being urged not to shoot the bank or its employees.
“What is Ameria? A stupid bank!” the protesters kept shouting, calling on passers-by to join the boycott and close their Ameria accounts in protest of the bank’s support for the Amulsar exploitation. Levon Galstyan, one of the organizers of the protest and a member of the Pan-Armenian Environmental Front, went ahead and did it himself, to set an example for others.
Speaking to reporters, Galstyan said that Lydian used to finance the Amulsar gold project solely with foreign bank investments; “However, an Armenian bank has now joined the funding and we therefore need to be more active.” He added that it was strange that Ruben Vardanyan, one of the founders of Ameriabank who is a major supporter of various environmental programs, such as the creation of eco-villages throughout Armenia, should finances the exploitation of such an ecologically dangerous gold mine.
“Imagine for a second, Lake Sevan is contaminated with heavy metals, which flow through the Hrazdan river to Ararat valley and end up in the fruits and vegetables that we eat. Moreover, a plant that uses cyanide for gold mining – 35 kilometers from the border – is an ecobomb over Armenia: a little bang, and cyanide will pour into the Arpa river – 1000 tons of cyanide a year. I do not even want to describe what would happen in such a scenario,” environmentalist Apres Zohrabyan said.