On February 7 the Belarus Supreme Court rejected blogger Alexander Lapshin’s appeal against the decision to extradite him to Azerbaijan. He’s currently awaiting extradition, which could take place within a few hours (as his lawyer informed us).
As a reminder, blogger Lapshin was arrested in Belarus on December 15, 2016, by Azerbaijan’s request. Official Baku accuses him of “illegally crossing its borders”, ie the visit to Nagorno-Karabakh and calls made against Azerbaijani statehood.
For more than a month Lapshin’s lawyers, Israeli diplomats, organizations involved in the protection of journalists’ rights, Armenia’s Ombudsman and the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic voiced their concern that in case of extradition, Lapshin can become a victim of revenge and unfair cruel treatment in Azerbaijan – for his journalistic activities and expressing his views, including on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Note that Lapshin is a citizen of Israel and Russia, but attempts of the Israeli and Russian diplomats to influence Minsk’s decision have proven useless.
Israel and Russia
Lapshin’s Israeli and Russian citizenship inadvertently resembles Israel – Azerbaijan and Russia – Azerbaijan military trade. For example, in 2012 Azerbaijan signed a contract with Israel for purchasing $1.6 billion worth arms. According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report, in comparison to 2005-2009, Azerbaijan increased its arms import in 2010-2014 by 249 %. According to the same report, Russia supplies 85% of Azerbaijan’s armament.
Naturally, Russia also sells weapons to Armenia, but, according to the report, the percentage of weapons purchased by Armenia in recent years has accounted for only 4% of Azerbaijan’s numbers. In fact, since 2010, Russia and Israel have willingly armed Ilham Aliyev’s non democratic regime with un unresolved conflict.
Business, which harms not only the Armenians and Azerbaijanis
After the escalation of the conflict on April 2016, which resulted in hundreds of casualties, both the Armenian side and a number of international forces criticized Israel and Russia for selling offensive weapons to countries with active conflict. As long as Israel, Russia or any other country with military industry justify such policy with “this is just business”, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict keeps heating up, with irreversible increase in fatal accidents.
Moreover, the history of the past two centuries has demonstrated that democratic nations, as a rule, do not fight against each other, so the only way for a peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is creating and strengthening democracy in both countries. Naturally, the sale of weapons to authoritarian governments of any party does not contribute to this process, especially if one of the parties, official Baku, has the financial resources to buy arms and ammunition on an unprecedented scale.
Policy of Israel and Russia contributes to strengthening of authoritarian governments in power and gives momentum to an already formidable bellicose sentiments. It also gives a feeling of impunity to Aliyev, who thinks that today he can easily silence not only Azerbaijani journalists, but also foreigners, including Alexander Lapshin.
In fact, if short-sighted decisions of Israeli and Russian governments until recently were only hurting the Armenians and Azerbaijanis, particularly taking away hundreds of lives of 18-20 year olds on the border, today in a ridiculous (and sad) coincidence they harm a person with Israeli and Russian citizenship.
Hereafter, these decisions have become dangerous not only for Armenians and Azerbaijanis. Afterwards, they are dangerous for citizens of other countries, including the the decision-making ones.
Union of Informed Citizens