Extradition Lapshin and Russia’s reaction
On 7 February, a special flight from Minsk to Baku was taken by the blogger Alexander Lapshin. The blogger, having the citizenship of Russia and Israel, was detained in Minsk on December 16 last year. Then he wrote that he was detained at the request of Azerbaijan, where it is included in the black list for visiting without the consent of Baku with the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. According to the Azerbaijani side, Lapshin without obtaining official permission he visited Karabakh in April 2011 and October 2012, after which he was made Baku to the black list. In 2016, he twice issued a call to recognize the independence of Karabakh.
Baku declared him on the international wanted list for violation of the law “On state border” after June 2015 Lapshin entered Azerbaijan through Georgia to the Ukrainian passport. Pass the border control, he was able because of the other writing in the Ukrainian passport name Alexander (Oleksandr). The citizenship of Ukraine have Lapshin was before 2011, and his Ukrainian passport Agency “Sputnik Belarus” calls “questionable”.
Against the citizen of two countries Azerbaijan General Prosecutor’s office opened a criminal case under two articles of the Criminal code: “Repeated public appeals directed against the state” and “Illegal crossing of the state border of Azerbaijan,” which is punishable with imprisonment for a term of five to eight years.
December lapshyn was kept in Minsk remand prison. The Supreme court of Belarus rejected his appeal against the decision of the Prosecutor General on extradition to Azerbaijan, after which he was extradited.
The results of Russian citizens in third countries is unacceptable, said earlier the Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov. According to him, Russia opposes the criminalization of visiting journalists or private individuals “of a particular territory in a particular region.”
“Taking all possible legal measures to protect Lapshin”, — assured journalists on 9 February, press Secretary of the President Dmitry Peskov. The Russian Embassy in Baku on Wednesday sent to the foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan, the meeting request, consular officer with Lapshin, response to the environment have not been received.
The Prosecutor General of Belarus stated that neither Russia nor Israel has requested the extradition Lapshin. Embassy of Israel in Azerbaijan is monitoring the developments, told TASS Deputy head of the Israeli diplomatic mission in Belarus Julia Rucinski-Spivakov.
Sending Lapshin in Azerbaijan, Belarus spoiled relations not only with Armenia but also with Russia and Israel, drew attention to the Belarusian political analyst Valery Karbalevich. Minsk wanted to “make a trade”, but Russia and Israel began to play along, so I had to give Lapshin Baku, assumes Karbalevich. The problem Lapshin — additional irritant in relations between Belarus and Russia, which has accumulated is not enough, Minsk went on a demonstrative step, not paying attention to the words of Lavrov, says the Belarusian expert.
Yerevan vs Minsk
The decision of Minsk, deputies of the Armenian Parliament was regarded as unfriendly to their country. The head of the faction of the ruling Republican party of Armenia Vahram Baghdasaryan on Wednesday demanded to exclude Belarus from the organization of collective security Treaty. In its decision, Minsk has once again demonstrated a biased attitude to the Armenian side, said Baghdasaryan. Opposition lawmaker Nikol Pashinyan was supported by the representative of the ruling party, urging to withdraw its Ambassador from Belarus.
Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said that the decision in Lapshin provocation. The authorities of Azerbaijan, in his words, “freaked out and trying to provoke others.”
Minsk denies the claims. “Calls Armenia to exclude Belarus from the CSTO — it’s just emotions,” — said on 9 February, press Secretary of the foreign Ministry of Belarus Dmitry Mironchik. Belarus and Armenia are friendly countries, partners in the integration associations, including the CSTO, he assured. Belarus, according to him, pursuing a multi-vector policy friendly, complying strictly with the international standards and fulfilling their legal obligations.
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko and Ilham Aliyev discussed the extradition, describing it as respect for the law and international conventions, the statement said the press service. The Azerbaijani foreign Ministry in a statement called on to consider the question of extradition exclusively in the legal plane.
“The issue of extradition of the blogger Lapshin in Azerbaijan should not be moved from the plane to the legal plane political, in this case both fields are interrelated. We are dealing with relationships that exist not only between state called Belarus, and the state called Azerbaijan, but also with the relations between the leaders of these countries”, — says Director of the Armenian branch of CIS Institute Alexander Markarov. Lukashenko has repeatedly called Aliyev a friend.
The steps which have been unfriendly towards Armenia can be considered by the authorities of the country in development of cooperation in integration associations, including the CSTO, however, the participation of Yerevan in them is not determined by the steps that are carried out by the leadership of Belarus, and determines the strategic development plan and its own vision of political necessity, feasibility, and interest, the analyst specifies.