Belarus extradites Lapshin, a blogger charged over illegal visit to Karabakh, to Azerbaijan
Alexander Lapshin, a blogger, was delivered to Baku on a special flight from Minsk. Earlier, on February 7, the Belarusian Supreme Court turned down Alexander Lapshin’s appeal against the decision on his extradition to Azerbaijan.
Alexander Lapshin, a prominent Russian blogger, was arrested in Belarus on the Azerbaijani side’s request, on December 16, 2016. According to Baku, A.Lapshin illegally visited Karabakh in April 2011 and October 2012, without getting the Azerbaijani side’s officialpermission. Thus, he violated the provisions of the Law on State Border of Azerbaijan and the Law on Passports. For reference, on April 6 and June 29, 2016, A. Lapshinmade the blog posts, calling for recognition of the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
Belarusian General Prosecutor’s Office decided to extradite Lapshin to Azerbaijan for further criminal prosecution. Minsk City Court upheld the General Prosecutor’s Office decision on Lapshin’s extradition. By its judgment, dated February 7, 2017, the Belarusian Supreme Court upheld the first instance court ruling. Lapshin was extradited to Baku the same evening.
Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, stated earlier, Moscow was against A. Lapshin’s extradition to the Azerbaijani authorities. “We are against extradition of the RF citizens, arrested in this or that country, to the third state,” Sergey Lavrov stated.
The Grave Crimes Investigation Department of the General Prosecutor’s Office of Azerbaijan has instituted criminal proceedings pursuant to 2 articles of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan, that provide for punishment by deprivation of liberty for the period of 5-8 years.
“We should hand him over to Azerbaijan. We have no grounds for not extraditing him,” Belarus leader, Alexander Lukashenko, stated at a news conference in Minsk, on February 3.
Lapshin is a citizen of Russia, Ukraine and Israel. He operates a popular livejournal blog, where he published the reports from Nagorno-Karabakh.