ARDVI, Armenia (A.W.)— Samvel Kirakosyan, the mayor of Ardvi village, has stepped down after the village council and residents rejected a company’s plans to mine gold in the area. Several residents blocked the entrance to the village on July 26 to interrupt a public discussion on the controversial project.
According to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, a little-known company called Miram, which was registered in Armenia just three months ago, planned to mine in the village.
According to reports, locals opposed the operation since they believe open-pit mining would have substantial negative effects on the village’s ecosystem by contaminating water sources, forests, and grasslands.
Miram’s shareholders include a man linked to Vahram Baghdasaryan, head of the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) parliamentary bloc. According to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, that fact has fueled speculation that Baghdasaryan is involved in the project. He has not yet commented on the issue.
Kirakosyan tendered his resignation on the same day that the local government body rejected his proposal to allow Miriam to conduct a geological survey on 150 hectares of community land. Members of the council told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that the resignation was not accepted by the council.
“He was probably upset with something,” said Suren Veranyan, one of the village council members. “We told him that we are not accepting his resignation and [he] agreed with us, saying that he will withdraw the resignation.”
Kirakosyan, who has been the mayor of Ardvi for the past seven years, refused to comment on the issue.