YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia’s Prosecutor-General Henrik Khachatrian said former Prime Minister Hrant Bagratian is obstructing the investigation into a corruption case against former top government officials by refusing to give testimony.
Khachatrian told journalists today that Bagratian fears the investigation of charges that a member of his cabinet–former Light Industry Minister Rudolf Teymurazian–and his associates illegally appropriated some $500,000 from a Chinese government loan that was intended for industrial development.
Teymurazian and a group of other former officials are currently under arrest and awaiting trial.
Khachatrian said that three state enterprise directors who dealt with the loan were arrested earlier this week–but refused to disclose their names. He said more arrests may follow. Khachatrian also said that he is under pressure from influential forces he did not identify not to press on with the investigation.
He complained that Bagratian has ignored repeated summonses to the prosecutor-general’s office. He threatened to have the former premier brought to his office by force if Bagratian continues to disregard his orders.
Turning to Armenia’s crime statistics for the first eleven months of 1997–Khachatrian said that despite a decline in the number of murders–crime in general has risen by approximately 2 percent–primarily as a result of a dramatic 50 per cent increase in juvenile crime.