BRATISLAVA, Slovakia—Politicians and journalists from Slovakia in a letter called on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to assist in the release of Russian-Israeli blogger Alexander Lapshin.
The letter called on Israel to “take all possible actions for the liberation of Alexander Lapshin,” noting that Lapshin’s arrest is “purely political” considering it their “moral duty to advocate the liberation of Alexander Lapshin.”
Lapshin’s arrest came after visiting the Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) Republic in 2011, 2012, and 2016. He referred to Artsakh’s independence within his travel blog, defending Artsakh’s right to self-determination. “His visit was a visit to people heroically defending the lands of their ancestors, and his blogs are a tribute to these people,” read part of the letter.
In response to media backlash against Azerbaijan’s gross violation of freedom of speech, Baku offered to release Lapshin if he pleads guilty and apologizes. “His arrest and conviction runs contrary to the Main Charter of Freedoms and Rights,” the letter to Netanyahu read. “The liberation of Alexander Lapshin cannot be based on the recognition of his guilt in crimes he did not commit.”
The blogger—who has Israeli citizenship—was detained in Minsk after Baku issued an arrest warrant against him, and was detained by Minsk authorities on December 15.
Lapshin is currently serving eight years in Azerbaijani prison after his extradition to Baku on February 7.
The letter was signed by former Slovakian Member of Parliament and Speaker František Miklošk—along with the Forum of Armenian Associations of Europe (FAAE), Ján Čarnogurský, former Prime Minister of Slovakia, Radovan Pavlik, SITA news agency reporter, and Ashot Grigorian, President of FAAE.