YEREVAN (Armenian Weekly)—The Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) of Armenia and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) “Nigol Aghpalian” Student Association held a protest at the Embassy of Belarus in Yerevan on January 16, calling on Belarussian authorities to fairly and objectively approach the detainment of blogger Alexander Lapshin and to not give in to the demands of Azerbaijan.
Demonstrators chanted “Karabakh is not Azerbaijan,” “Freedom for Alexander Lapshin,” and “Don’t give in to the Aliyev regime,” as they demanded to meet with the Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus to the Republic of Armenia, Igor Nazaruk. The activists chanted “shame” as they learned that Nazaruk had declined to meet them and left a letter to the ambassador on the front steps of the embassy.
Lapshin—who holds dual citizenship to Israel and the Russian Federation—was arrested on Dec. 15 in Minsk by the orders of Azerbaijan authorities for his visits to Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (Artsakh) in 2011 and 2012.
Azerbaijan has placed Lapshin on their blacklist and has opened a criminal case against Lapshin for “illegally” crossing the Azerbaijani border.
“In the letter, we explained that Azerbaijan has committed a gross violation of human rights. If this gathering does not change anything, we are ready to take on further action,” AYF Armenia member Arshak Mesrobian told reporters during the protest.
“On September 2, 1991, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic declared independence. This declaration was guided by the USSR acting Constitution and laws that gave the population of Karabakh the right to decide independently the issue of their state-legal status in case of a Soviet Republic’s secession from the USSR. On Dec. 10, 1991, a referendum was held where 99% voted for the independence of Karabakh. We call upon the Belarusian authorities to impartially and comprehensively approach this issue and not to yield to the unfair demands of the Republic of Azerbaijan,” read a part of the letter signed by the AYF and “Nigol Aghpalian” Student Association.
The protest was also joined by representatives of the youth wings of Armenia’s various political parties as well as members of non-governmental organizations.