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SLAPPd: the Armenian activists fighting a mining multinational’s lawsuits

Author: David Hoffman & Fidanka Bacheva-McGrath, CEE Bankwatch Network, Published on: 30 June 2020

22 June 2020

Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) are a form of often frivolous litigation used by corporations to intimidate and punish critics and silence their right to free speech. Lydian international, the tax haven-listed mining company, has repeatedly deployed the tactic against journalists and civil society as it presses forward with the Amulsar gold mine in Armenia, whilst the EBRD has stood by silently...

Lydian has filed no less than 15 suits against dissenting voices, largely as an attempt to silence criticism. In spite of the clear malicious intent of the complaints, the EBRD, which has a mandate to promote democracy, has refused to intervene in support of the right to free speech. We interviewed several members of the fight to protect Amulsar who are currently tied up in litigation with Lydian, and they shared their experiences in navigating the precarious territory of SLAPP suits...

In addition to these suits, in 2018 Lydian filed a claim against the Armenian Environmental and Mining Inspection Body. The inspection body had identified a range of violations related to mine’s operation and obliged the company to stop certain activities in the Amulsar area. In particular, the body noted the presence of red-listed species, project deviations during construction works, the inappropriate land use, unauthorized atmospheric emissions, failure to draft and approve hazardous waste passports during construction, the storage of hazardous wastes without a license and failure to pay environmental taxes for dust emissions. In 2019, the company also filed a lawsuit against two Armenian media sources – Lragir and Skizb – for defamation.

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Related companies: Lydian International