By Anna Saghabalian
Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian reported on Friday a more than 10 percent increase in the number of crimes registered by Armenian law-enforcement authorities in the first half of this year.
The official statistics show the number of murders surging by almost 37 percent to 38 and indicate a further steep rise in drug use and trafficking in Armenia. According to them, police identified over 760 drug-related crimes, or more than twice as many as during the same period last year. This includes possession of “soft” drugs such as marijuana, which is a serious crime under Armenian law.
Hovsepian said these figures expose only the tip of the iceberg, admitting that the real scale of sales and consumption of narcotics in Armenia is substantially higher, even if it is still quite low by Western and ex-Soviet standards.
According to the Armenian police, the number of drug-related crimes already jumped by 80 percent last year. Experts and doctors dealing with the problem agree that drug use in the country has been on the rise.
Speaking to journalists after chairing a meeting of senior Armenian prosecutors, Hovsepian said the police and other law-enforcement bodies registered a total of 4,823 various crimes, up from 4,389 such cases reported in the first half of 2005. By contrast, official figures for the first half of 2005 showed a 18 percent drop in crime. Armenia’s official crime rate had likewise dropped by 9 percent in 2004.
Hovsepian said the first six months of this year also saw a decrease in the number of some crimes such as military draft evasion, embezzlement of public funds and violence against state officials. He said the police and prosecutors also identified and solved 11 instances of bribery during the period in question. He would not say if any high-ranking officials were arrested or prosecuted as a result.
(Photolur photo: Aghvan Hovsepian.)