Sunday, February 12, 2017
Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer
Until a few weeks ago no one in North America even heard of journalist-blogger Alexander Lapshin. He lives primarily in Moscow but as a Russian-Israeli-Ukrainian citizen possessing three passports, Lapshin is a globetrotter who writes a blog called “Life Adventures” for the popular travel website LiveJournal. In Russia his on the road stories to off the beaten path, unusual places around the world (122 in all) have generated quite a following for their colorful and humorous portrayal of life as a foreign tourist visiting various diverse cultures and locations. But the 40-year old Lapshin is in political hot water now as a political prisoner sitting in a jail in Baku, Azerbaijan. His legal case has attracted international attention and involves high profile politics in four different nations.
On December 15th last year, Alexander Lapshin was detained in Minsk, Belarus. Viewing the blogger as a threat to “homeland security” based on his alleged “espionage,” the Azerbaijan prosecuting office had ordered the blogger’s arrest and requested extradition at the behest of Azeri President Ilham Aliyev. The travel journalist had made trips in 2011 and 2012 to Nagorno-Karabakh, sympathizing and identifying with the Armenians he met as reflected in his blog entries. Then on his social media account on April 6, 2016 and again on June 29th last year, Alexander commented on the unfairness of Azerbaijan’s territorial claims based on its attempted invasion of the disputed region, calling for recognition of the enclave’s independence, apparently a crime in violation of Azeri law code 281.2. Aware that the popular journalist’s messages were reaching a receptive audience of thousands of readers, the Baku government was growing nervous that his writings were contributing to the Nagorno-Karabakh movement for worldwide recognized independence. Thus, the reactionary oppressive state drew up a legal case against Lapshin, charging him with violating Azerbaijan’s “territorial integrity.” Baku was determined to set a harsh example of him to show the rest of the world what happens to journalists who publicly badmouth Azerbaijan.
Gloating over the victory of extraditing Lapshin and his current Baku incarceration, the deputy speaker for Azerbaijan’s legislature warned the rest of the world:
Those not reckoning with Azerbaijan, may share Lapshin’s fate.
The timing of the blogger’s detainment in Belarus came immediately following Lapshin’s Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s visit to Baku to close a $5 billion missile arms deal with Azerbaijan. With Azeri-Israeli relations never chummier, the Baku government seized the moment when in mid-December the traveling journalist landed in Minsk, a capital housing a government sympathetic to the Azeri cause.
Another arbitrary Azeri law no one ever heard of apparently until the Lapshin case prohibits visitors from other countries to travel to Nagorno-Karabakh without authorized permission (code 318.2) from the Baku government. Of course thousands of individuals have gone to Nagorno-Karabakh since 1994, after Azerbaijan and Armenia fought a bloody six year warresulting in 30,000 deaths that Armenia won, leaving only Armenians who’ve been living there for many centuries. But since 1994 apparently Alexander Lapshin is the first and only person ever arrested for entering the disputed region without clearing the visit with Baku officials.
The long contested territory originated when Josef Stalin in 1920 gave Azerbaijan administrative control, despite Nagorno-Karabakh’s overwhelming majority population being Armenian since ancient times. And hence arose the controversy by the ruthless Soviet dictator acting by designed decree as a shrewd divide and rule strategist to facilitate autocratic control over his territorial Soviet colonies Azerbaijan and Armenia. Since the Armenians were still facing genocide, Stalin knew handing over power to the Turkish brethren the Azeris would result in further persecution of Armenian residents in Nagorno-Karabakh, otherwise known asArtsakh to the Armenians. This ancient Armenian land had been home to Armenians long before the Azeris as an ethnic group and culture ever came into existence.
The world’s first Christian nation of Armenia in 301 AD included what is a large portion of now eastern Turkey (Western Armenia), Artsakh, another Armenian enclave Nakhichevan as well as the current small nation Armenia (Eastern Armenia). Even prior to the breakup of the Soviet Empire in 1991, the residents of Artsakh submitted to Moscow a peaceful appeal for Armenian reunification back in 1988. As the pogrom killings of Armenians in Baku and other Azeri cities became more prevalent, eventually in self-defense, war broke out. Amidst the ongoing war, in 1991 Artsakh residents overwhelmingly voted for their own independence, declaring itself the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. At one point Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was receptive to granting sovereignty, but the matter was delayed by bureaucracy in the face of the unstable, chaotic dissolution of the Soviet Union. Smaller than the state of Connecticut with a population near 150,000 Armenians, the mountainous region remains a global hotspot to this day that could potentially be the incendiary igniting World War III.
Continue Reading on: http://empireexposed.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-alexander-lapshin-case-extradited.html
Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer. He has written a manuscript based on his unique military experience entitled “Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down.” It examines and focuses on US international relations, leadership and national security issues. After the military, Joachim earned a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and worked as a licensed therapist in the mental health field with abused youth and adolescents for more than a quarter century. In recent years he has focused on his writing, becoming an alternative media journalist. His blog site is at http://empireexposed.blogspot.co.id/. His blog site is athttp://empireexposed.blogspot.co.id/.
The Alexander Lapshin Case: Extradited and Imprisoned in Azerbaijan over Telling the Truth about Nagorno-Karabakh