Russian Official Opposes Blogger’s Extradition To Azerbaijan

Russian Human Rights Ombudsman Tatyana Moskalkova (Photo: RT)
Russian Human Rights Ombudsman Tatyana Moskalkova (Photo: RT)

Russian Human Rights Ombudsman Tatyana Moskalkova (Photo: RT)

MOSCOW, Russia (RFE/RL)Russia’s top human rights official has warned authorities in Belarus against handing over to Azerbaijan a Russian-Israeli blogger who was arrested in Minsk in December because of his past trips to Nagorno-Karabakh.

The state Ombudsman, Tatyana Moskalkova, issued a statement late Tuesday warning that Alexander Lapshin’s extradition is “inadmissible.”

Moskalkova argued that Russia’s constitution forbids the extradition of Russian citizens to foreign countries. Belarus must respect this constitutional provision because it is part of a “union state” with Russia, she said.

“I have received support for my position from Russia’s Foreign Ministry and other relevant agencies,” stressed the official.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed concern last month over the fate of Lapshin, who visited Karabakh in 2011 and 2012 and gave detailed accounts of the trips on his Russian-language blog.

Israel asked Belarus not to send the 40-year-old to Baku shortly he was detained on December 14 on an arrest warrant issued by the Azerbaijani authorities. The latter say that he had illegally entered “occupied territories of Azerbaijan.”

A court in Minsk upheld last week Belarusian prosecutor’s’ decision to allow his extradition to Azerbaijan. According to the Israeli consul general in Belarus, Yulia Rachinski-Spivakov, Lapshin has appealed against that ruling.

“Lapshin will stay in Belarus until the court makes a [final] decision on the case,” Rachinski-Spivakov told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Wednesday. She said that Israeli diplomats in Minsk continue to visit him in custody.

Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian condemned Lapshin’s prosecution as a “disgrace” on Tuesday.

The arrest came two weeks after Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko visited Baku and received Azerbaijan’s highest state award from President Ilham Aliyev.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) demanded the blogger’s “unconditional” release in a January 13 statement.

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3 Comments

  1. nazareth samuelian said:

    Mr lapshin is journalist & a Justice persuader. he is a free men to visit wherever he wants .free lapshin now .

  2. Edward Demiraiakian said:

    Poor man, he’s being victimised for no fault of his. Clearly, the President of Belarus took a big bribe for this. No civilised nation would extradite an innocent blogger. Thousands of tourists and foreign dignitaries visit the same place. Armenia has not yet developed a foreign inteligeance force. But if it had any assets in Belarus, they would be obligated to free the man. By hook or crook. Mosad better not sleep on this.

  3. Raffi said:

    ….. Israel asked Belarus not to send the 40-year-old to Baku….. WHY IS ISRAEL WORRIED, IF THEY ARE BUDDIES?

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