YEREVAN — Citing increased drug trafficking and other illegal cross-border activities, Russian border guards controlling Armenia’s frontier with Iran have set up checkpoints along several roads in the country’s southern Syunik province.
“The strengthening of control on the section of the Meghri-Agarak (M2) highway, along the state border of the Republic of Armenia and the Islamic Republic of Iran, is associated with an increase in attempts to illegally import hard drugs and psychotropic substances (hashish, methamphetamine, heroin) from Iran to the Republic of Armenia”. Press service of the Border Guards of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSS) said in a statement.
According to the FSB violations of the border by representatives of extremist and terrorist groups were also recorded.
“Last year, in the area of the border guard detachment of Meghri, Russian border guards arrested two armed persons who had a large amount of weapons and ammunition with them,” the FSB said.
Bagrat Zakaryan, mayor of Meghri, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Tuesday that the Russian checkpoints recently spotted in Syunik were actually set up several months ago. In total, he said, five such checkpoints were placed at roads leading from Meghri to several towns and villages in Syunik.
Meghri’s mayor acknowledged that the checkpoints create certain problems for local tourism.
“Tourists have to go through passport control procedures before they can visit several rural areas here,” Zakaryan said.