The status of a ‘thief-in-law’ or ‘criminal authority’ will be grounds enough to launch criminal prosecution " />

Armenian gov’t approves bill to tackle issue of ‘thieves-in-law’

The status of a ‘thief-in-law’ or ‘criminal authority’ will be grounds enough to launch criminal prosecution

The Armenian government has approved a bill of amendments to the criminal codex of the country, which will make it easier for prosecutor’s to go after ‘thieves-in-law’ or members of the criminal underworld.

 The bill was presented to the government by Minister of Justice Rustam Badasyan.

According to the amendments, the status of “thief in law” will now be sufficient reason to bring individuals to criminal liability.

“[This will make it possible] to prosecute for granting, obtaining or maintaining the highest status in the criminal hierarchy, creation, leadership, participation, involvement and preservation of the criminal subculture,” Badasyan said.

 The Armenian Minister of Justice explained that the amendments would affect not only “thieves in law”, but also “criminal authorities”.

In addition, individuals who turn to ‘crime bosses’ to solve disputes will also be subject to prosecution.

Prosecutor General Arthur Davtyan also called for the adoption of a package of amendments:

“The members of this subculture significantly impede the disclosure of crimes … I believe that law enforcement agencies should prepare for the moment the law is implemented,  because when it comes into force, they will have a lot of work to do.”

Earlier, similar amendments to the criminal code were adopted in Georgia and in Russia.

PM Pashinyan on the bill

During a government meeting Pashinyan stated:

“The bill concerns ‘thieves in law’, so-called sxodki [Rus. Criminal assemblies], ‘obshchak’ [Rus. A criminal aid fund] and other phenomena. This bill will ensure that all those involved in this are held accountable. The people of this subculture consider prison their home, therefore, they all need to be sent home.”

The prime minister touched on the topic of the amendments to the criminal code and on his Facebook page:

Today we adopted a bill to the criminal code of Armenia, the content of which can be briefly described as follows: ‘a thief should be in prison!’”

 Social media reaction

Facebook users have responded positively to the news about the upcoming changes.

Here are some comments that were left under the post on the page of Nikol Pashinyan:

“We are all thrilled! Bravo”

“Long-awaited changes and amendments to the laws!!!”

“Since that is so, do not forget about the so-called չաստ նայող (those who are watching the military unit), otherwise the mess in the army will continue.  They don’t touch your son in the army … but those who don’t have high patrons have big problems.  Maybe someone is not reporting everything to you as it really is … And these are your promises on the square to the people that you may have already forgotten.”

“A thief must be in prison! And hucksters too!  And we have complete chaos in this regard, unfortunately.  Most are drug addicts or drug dealers.  The police are inactive.”

“If a thief should be in prison, then why does Serzhik [former Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan – JAMnews] and his gang go free?  He robbed a whole nation.  Or is he special?”

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