The national police chief, Valeri Osipian, acknowledged the higher crime rate in November. But Osipian downplayed it, saying 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.
Police officials say that a general amnesty declared by the Armenian authorities in October is another factor behind the increased number of crimes. The amnesty led to the early release from prison of 581 convicts. In Ghukasian’s words, 30 of them have been arrested again for committing more crimes.
Critics of the current government say that police have been weaker on crime and especially traffic violations since the revolution. They point out, in particular, that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian ordered a less strict enforcement of traffic rules shortly after coming to power in May 2018.
Ghukasian confirmed that the number of car accidents and resulting fatalities in Armenia also rose last year. But he blamed that first and foremost on a nearly twofold rise in car imports to the country in 2018.
Osipian dismissed the criticism of the new police leadership when he spoke to reporters in late December. He also claimed to have eliminated corruption in the police ranks since taking office in May.
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