Oleg Kravchenko, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, on Monday delivered a lecture, entitled “Belarus and its Neighbors,” at Carleton University in Ottawa, the capital city of Canada.
Representatives of the Armenian Students’ Association of Ottawa and the Armenian National Committee of Canada also attended the event.
A Q&A was held after the lecture, and during which the Canadian Armenian students asked a barrage of questions to the Belarus deputy FM, and which were exclusively in regard to Israeli Russian blogger Alexander Lapshin’s extradition from Belarus to Azerbaijan, and overall, the human rights violations in Belarus. Oleg Kravchenko, however, became perplexed and gave contradicting answers to these queries.
During his lecture, Kravchenko drew similarities between Canada and Belarus. But to the remark that Canada is a democratic state, whereas the president of Belarus rules the country in an autocratic manner for more than 20 years, the Belarusian deputy FM responded by just saying there are no flawless countries.
And responding to a question on the extradition of Lapshin, Kravchenko said: “Sometimes the CIS [i.e. the Commonwealth of Independent States] conventions on extradition can contradict the UN conventions.”
This view completely unmasks the true demeanor of Belarus, which is quite far from the UN conventions and numerous other international legal acts.
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.