On January 20, at the request of Azerbaijan, the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Republic of Belarus made a decision to extradite the famous blogger Alexander Lapshin arrested in Belarus. Note that Azerbaijan was demanding that Lapshin be extradited because of visiting Nagorno Karabakh Republic. Azerbaijan considers it as an illegal crossing of its state border.
Lapshin and his lawyers have 10 days to appeal against the decision from the moment it was made. And though the blogger is still in Belarus and there is a possibility that his Israeli and Russian passports will save him from being extradited to Azerbaijan, we can already make a few conclusions from this story.
Level of Safety in Belarus
The decision of Minsk to extradite Lapshin shows that cooperation with Azerbaijan is more important for Belarus than its international image as a country where at least the foreigners’ rights are protected. In fact, if Belarus can extradite a person with Russian and Israeli citizenship to Baku, then it can take the same action towards any person that will visit Nagorno Karabakh
What about Armenian Citizens
Apparently, Armenian citizens who visit Karabakh can also appear in the same situation. In fact, there is no difference between an Israeli and Russian blogger visiting Karabakh and any other person. In both cases, people cross the Karabakh border which, according to Azerbaijan, is an illegal crossing of the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
This means that from now on, any person who has been to Nagorno Karabakh will face the danger of being extradited to Azerbaijan if he ever visits Belarus.
In such a situation, the Armenian Foreign Ministry should not spare efforts in informing people who are in Azerbaijan’s “black list” or those who have ever visited Nagorno Karabakh Republic that it is not safe for them to visit Belarus anymore.
Moreover, in the first place, the Armenian Foreign Ministry should warn its citizens about such a risk as many of Armenian citizens have been to Nagorno Karabakh. All the citizens who visit Belarus should know that visiting that country can cost them their freedom and they might appear in an Azerbaijani jail.
In the current situation, the most important circumstance that should concern Armenia is that Belarus is periodically taking anti-Armenian actions despite officially being Armenia’s ally within the framework of the EAEU and the CSTO.
Naturally, Lapshin’s extradition has political reasons and is related to close relations between Belarus and Azerbaijan. We cannot rule out the possibility that other countries which have close relations with Azerbaijan will follow the example of Belarus.
This claim particularly refers to Turkey, Pakistan and Kazakhstan, which may also receive such requests of extradition of people who have “illegally crossed the border of Azerbaijan” and satisfy the request.
“Union of Informed Citizens”