MINSK — The Prosecutor General’s Office of Belarus has decided to extradite Russian-Israeli blogger Alexander Lapshin to Azerbaijan. “The resolution was adopted to extradite Lapshin on Azerbaijan’s request… The Prosecutor General’s Office studied the materials provided by the Azerbaijani side. The decision to extradite the citizen was made on that basis,” the office’s spokesman, Pyotr Kiselev, said Friday.
Azerbaijan had blacklisted Lapshin, a duel citizen of Israel and Russia, for visiting the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. The blogger then conducted a second trip to Baku, using a Ukrainian passport as a travel document.
In his blog, he later criticized Azerbaijan, highlighting the problems encountered during the visit.
The blogger is now going to face prosecution over “public appeals against state” and “illegal border crossing” (Articles 281.2 and 318.2 of Azerbaijan’s Criminal Code), Ara Zohrabyan, the president of the Armenian Chamber of Advocates, says in a post on Facebook.
In a justification enclosed to its decision, the General Prosecutor’s Office of Belarus cited the legal grounds allowing for extradition. It said particularly that extradition is legal whenever the crime committed is found punishable beyond reasonable doubt and is subject to imprisonment for more than a year.
“Alexander Lapshin is not a Belurusian citizen. There are no legislative obstacles in either Azerbaijan or Belarus to rule out his extradition to the Republic of Azerbaijan,” reads the document.
The decision can be appealed within 10 days after being issued.
According to Zohrabyan, the president of the Chamber says they have created a special working group to deal with the issue and provide the necessary aid within their power. “Alexander Lapshin needs our protection,” Zohrabyan said.
On the same day, Lapshin has written a letter of apology to Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev over the blogger’s visit to Nagorno-Karabakh without consent of Baku, Consul of Israeli embassy to Minsk Yulia Rachinski-Spivakov said Friday.
In the letter he asked pardon for his activities in the light of the fact that naivety was behind the actions he conducted. The letter has been notarized by the consul of Israeli embassy to Belarus and sent via our embassy to Baku for consideration by the administration of Azerbaijan’s president,” Rachinski-Spivakov said.
She added that Lapshin’s mother, who was also Israel’s citizen, had also requested Aliyev to pardon her son.