By Hrach Melkumian
Senior officials from the interior ministries of Russia and Armenia concluded a two-day annual meeting in Yerevan on Friday, pledging closer coordination of their fight against crime.
The interior ministers of the two countries who chaired the joint meeting of their collegiums said they discussed ways of “increasing the effectiveness” of bilateral cooperation. They said they agreed to facilitate the extradition of criminal suspects wanted by Russian and Armenian law-enforcement agencies.
According to Armenian Interior Minister Hayk Harutiunian, Russia extradited 110 suspects to Armenia last year. Harutiunian said 12 persons were caught and handed over to Russian authorities by his agency.
Russian Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov told a joint news conference that the two sides mapped out joint steps to combat "international terrorism" and cross-border trafficking of drugs and weapons, many of which end up in Russia. Gryzlov said Armenian law-enforcement officials assured their Russian counterparts that international drug traffickers do not use Armenia as a transit route.
Gryzlov, who met with President Robert Kocharian on Thursday, said the interior ministry officials also discussed the situation in Russia's breakaway republic of Chechnya as part of their planned anti-terror efforts. He indicated that those efforts will mainly involve “exchange of information.”
Moscow views the Islamic insurgents fighting for Chechnya's secession as "terrorists."