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Armenia’s Crime Rate Keeps Rising


Armenia - The the entrance to a bank in Yerevan is cordoned off by police after an attempted robbery, May 3, 2018.

The number of various crimes committed and officially registered in Armenia continued to grow in the first half of this year, a senior police official said on Wednesday.

The chief of the Armenian police staff, Colonel Armen Ghukasian, said law-enforcement authorities recorded 12,225 crimes in this period, up by 9 percent from January-June 2018. Burglaries and thefts accounted for the bulk of this increase, he told reporters.

The police reported an 11 percent rise in crimes last year. The chief of the national police service, Valeri Osipian said in November that many crimes were underreported under his predecessors. Besides, he said, victims of petty crimes are now less reluctant to report them because of greater public trust in the police.

Ghukasian echoed that statement when he commented on the reasons for the increased crime rate at a joint news conference with Osipian. He argued that the number of crime reports submitted by Armenians to police stations across the country rose by more than 16 percent in the first half of 2019.

Armenia - Armen Ghukasian, the chief of the police staff, at a news conference in Yerevan, January 30, 2019.
Armenia - Armen Ghukasian, the chief of the police staff, at a news conference in Yerevan, January 30, 2019.

In Ghukasian’s words, a general amnesty declared by the Armenian authorities in October also had “some impact” on crime statistics. The amnesty led to the early release from prison of some 650 convicts. In Ghukasian’s words, 88 of them have been arrested again for committing more offenses.

“We can presume that the individuals freed under the amnesty may have also committed other crimes that have not yet been solved,” added the police official.

Osipian noted, for his part, that since January 2018 more than a thousand other convicts have been freed because of completing their prison sentences or being granted parole.

Critics of the current government say that the police have been softer on crime after the 2018 “Velvet Revolution.” Osipian has repeatedly dismissed such claims. He again stated on Wednesday that he has practically eliminated corruption in the police ranks since taking office in May 2018.

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