A Minsk court has decided to uphold the extradition of Israeli-Russian blogger Alexander Lapshin to Baku.
After his appeal was definitively dismissed on February 7, Lapshin was placed on an Azerbaijani Airlines (AZAL) aircraft and arrived in Baku towards 23:00 local time, where he was seen detained by Azerbaijani soldiers.
In October of 2011 and 2012, Lapshin visited Nagorno-Karabakh and published a series of articles on Livejournal (puerrtto.livejournal.com) describing his trip. He expressed support for the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh and decried Azerbaijan’s attempts to recapture the territories.
Lapshin was officially detained in Minsk on December 15 at the request of the Azerbaijani government. He has been officially charged by Azerbaijani prosecutors of “public appeals directed against the state” (Article 281.2 of the Azerbaijani Criminal Codex) and the “illegal crossing of the state border of the Republic of Azerbaijan” (Article 318.2).
At the suggestion of the Russian authorities, Lapshin wrote a
letter addressed to President Aliyev
, ‘[requesting] pardon for his activities in the light of the fact that naivety was behind [his] actions’. Aliyev remained unmoved.
If convicted in Azerbaijan, Lapshin could face 5-8 years in prison.
Lapshin’s arrest in Belarus followed immediately in the wake of an official state visit to Azerbaijan by Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who visited the country in early December in an attempt to shore-up relations with several Muslim countries of the former Soviet Union.
A $5 billion arms agreement
was concluded for the purchase of Israeli drones and radar systems during Netanyahu’s visit.
Lapshin is a citizen of Ukraine, Russia and Israel,
and is one of the most widely-read Russian-language travel bloggers on Livejournal.
around 16,500 foreigners