Israeli Russian blogger Alexander Lapshin’s wife, Ekaterina, has petitioned to Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, with the request to urge the Azerbaijan leadership to release her spouse.
“Dear Mr. Prime Minister, as the head of the state, you have a big international influence, and thus, you can and must help the citizen of Israel who served in TZAHAL [i.e. the Israel Defense Forces], and now is in a difficult situation.
“You have released Gilad Shalit by paying a high price for him. Your brother fell while saving the Israelis and Jews in Entebbe.
“Now, the time has come to help a blogger and a reporter who got involved in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan while carrying out his journalistic duties, and as a result, found himself in an Azerbaijani prison.
“Taking into account the good relations between Azerbaijan and Israel, the joint military and economic programs, you have an opportunity to petition to [Azerbaijan] President [Ilham] Aliyev with a request and help the Israeli to be in freedom.
“This is a very dangerous precedent because if a blind eye is turned on this, later many Israelis can appear in such a situation, due to visiting disputed territories and for visiting our territories in Jerusalem or the Golan Heights, which the international community does not recognize as Israeli.
We realize that you are focused on global issues, such as the Iranian threat. But rendering assistance to your citizens is no less an important commitment, since we do not abandon our own, not solely in the battlefield, but anywhere.
“We expect your intervention, since you can and you must [intervene],” specifically reads the petition by Lapshin’s wife.
After his visits to Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) in 2011 and 2012, blogger Alexander Lapshin was “blacklisted” by Azerbaijan.
In June 2016, however, he paid a visit to Azerbaijan–but with a Ukrainian passport–and, subsequently, he published several articles criticizing the Azerbaijani authorities.
Afterward, Azerbaijan issued an international search for this famous blogger. On December 15, 2016, Lapshin was detained in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk, and based on this search.
On January 26 of the current year, the Minsk city court dismissed the blogger’s appeal of the Belarusian General Prosecutor’s Office decision to extradite him to Azerbaijan.
On February 7, the Supreme Court of Belarus dismissed the appeals that were filed into this case, and upheld the aforesaid decision by the General Prosecutor’s Office.
On the evening of the same day, the famous blogger was extradited to the Azerbaijani capital city of Baku, where he was taken into custody.
According to analysts and human rights defenders, however, Alexander Lapshin’s case may become an appalling precedent that curtails the freedom of speech of foreigners and the freedom of movement of Armenian citizens.