STEPANAKERT, Artsakh (A.W.)—Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh) Ombudsman (human rights defender) Ruben Melikyan said Azerbaijan has failed in its plan of limiting international coverage and activity in Artsakh since the arrest of Russian-Israeli blogger Alexander Lapshin.
Lapshin, who was arrested last December and sentenced to three years in prison on a charge related to his 2011 and 2012 visits to Artsakh, was pardoned by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev earlier today.
Speaking to the Stepanakert-based news outlet Artsakhpress, Melikyan said he was happy that a wrongfully convicted and imprisoned man will now return home, and that the Armenian Diaspora and the international human rights community is more inclined to do work in Artsakh since Lapshin’s arrest.
“Was the price of [Lapshin’s] freedom just a matter of changing positions and apologizing, or something else? It’s difficult to say. I believe it is the latter,” Melikyan said. “One thing is clear in Lapshin’s case: Azerbaijan had a goal of limiting foreign visits to Artsakh in order to prevent international coverage of the problems its citizens face. They have failed in this regard. Moreover, both our [Armenian] Diaspora and the principled section of the international human rights community have gained new impetus for further activity in Artsakh.”