Burglaries have doubled in Armenia, homicides have nearly tripled and illegal weapons trafficking is up by over 43 percent in Armenia so far in 2009. Sociologists see a connection between the crime binge and a new collection of wildly popular TV crime-thrillers.
"The Trap," broadcast on Armenia's private Shant TV channel, garners the bulk of the criticism. Broadcast twice daily, the star-studded series recounts the adventures of the fictional crime boss Hovo as he "fights for justice" against big business, cops and rival Armenian mafiosos.
"Hovo is a classic character. We need to have an honest criminal, if we don't have honest police officers," said celebrated poet and confessed "Trap" fan Marine Petrosian. "The series is a reflection of real life."
Hundreds of Armenian TV viewers apparently agree. AGB Nielsen Media Research's Yerevan office reports that the series ranks the highest among recently surveyed Yerevan viewers, with just over 40 percent of 120 households surveyed naming it the most watched program.
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Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Yerevan.