YEREVAN -- Armenian police chief Alik Sargsian says police registered almost 2,900 crimes in the first quarter of 2009, a 57 percent jump over the same period in 2008, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.
Sargsian said assaults, armed robberies, theft, fraud, and acts of hooliganism accounted for most of the increase, while the number of murders and other "grave crimes" dropped.
He said he is not worried by the higher numbers because he attributes the increase to efforts by police to get more crimes reported.
Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian has for many years criticized the underreporting of criminal activity.
Sargsian also pledged to investigate accusations by the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) that police were involved in attacks on HAK activists on April 27.
Sargsian dismissed criticism of a police-enforced ban against HAK gatherings on a major street in the captial, saying that "public order must not be violated and mass events on Northern Avenue must be within the bounds of the law."