MOSCOW — High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation Tatiana Moskalkova has warned authorities in Belarus against handing over to Azerbaijan Russian-Israeli blogger Alexander Lapshin who was arrested in Minsk in December because of his past trips to Nagorno-Karabakh.
“I consider it unacceptable to extradite Russian citizen, independent journalist Alexander Lapshin, from Belarus to Azerbaijan.
“Article 61, Part 1 of the Russian Constitution states plainly, “A citizen of the Russian Federation may not be deported from the Russian Federation or extradited to another state”. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and related agencies have supported my position.
“At the same time, I would like to remind Russian citizens going abroad that it is necessary to study and observe laws of foreign states”. Moskalkova said in a statement on Tuesday.
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 prosecutors’ 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.