BAKU, Azerbaijan (A.W.)—Images of Russian-Israeli blogger Alexander Lapshin being detained in Baku were released by the Interfax news agency just hours after news broke out that the Supreme Court of Belarus rejected his appeal and upheld the decision of the Prosecutor General’s office to extradite him to Azerbaijan.
Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh/NKR) Ombudsman Ruben Melikyan was quick to condemn the decision to extradite Lapshin. “Demonstrative prosecution of Lapshin is an attack [on] free speech and freedom of movement. Should be condemned in the strongest terms,” Melikyan tweeted, adding “Lapshin’s case is a black-and-white issue. Oppression v. Freedom. Human Rights defenders and journalists should visit NKR more as a response,” in a separate tweet.
Lapshin faces criminal prosecution in Azerbaijan for “illegal border crossing” and “public calls against the country.” Following the Supreme Court decision, Nagorno-Karabagh President Spokesperson Davit Babayan said that Lapshin’s extradition is a “challenge” to Israel.
“The decision causes serious damage to the credibility of the country,” Babayan told reporters on Feb. 7, adding, “We deem the decision of Belarus as scandalous, disgraceful, and illegal.”
Babayan said that he is confident that the people of Belarus do not support the decision and believes that Israel should suspend cooperation with Azerbaijan, especially since the life of Lapshin will be under serious threat in Azerbaijani prison.
The Armenian Weekly will be closely following the story and providing further details as they become available.