“Legal and Political Consequences of Aleksander Lapshin’s Extradition”
On January 23, a discussion entitled “Legal and Political Consequences of Aleksander Lapshin’s Extradition” was held at Media Center. Stepan Grigoryan, Director of the Center for Globalization and Regional Cooperation, Ara Ghazaryan Lawyer, Expert in international law and Samvel Martirosyan, Media expert.

After visiting Artsakh, the popular blogger was in the "blacklist" of Azerbaijan, and then he visited Baku for the second time with the Ukrainian passport. Lapshin also made publications about Azerbaijan on his blog, revealing the problems. Hereafter, a decision was made to impose a criminal liability based on Articles 281.2 (public appeals against states) and 318.2 (illegal crossing of the state border of Azerbaijan Republic) of Azerbaijan's Criminal Code. Deputy Prosecutor General of the Republic of Belarus decided to meet the request of the Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan about the extradition of Aleksander Lapshin, Russian and Israeli citizen, blogger, to Azerbaijan.

“Extradition process began. There is a prosecutor's decision. The court should make a final decision,” Ara Ghazaryan said.  

The speaker assessed the procedure as deep racism, the continuation of the general policy of hatred towards Armenians.

“As he is a journalist, blogger, he is actually prosecuted not for illegal entry but just for criticizing the Azerbaijani government's policy or expressing a favorable opinion about the Armenians. That is a violation of freedom of expression and a breach of warranty of discrimination prohibition,” Ara Ghazaryan said, noting that the extradition decision is not legitimate.

Samvel Martirosyan said that Azerbaijani authorities realized that quite serious noise rises in the world over Lapshin’s extradition, perceived as harassment against freedom of speech and tried to describe the case as a serious criminal realm blaming Lapshin in forming a terrorist group.

“This is absolutely absurd. It is clear that this is a political case. The Belarusian authorities are trying to please the Azerbaijani authorities and extradite Lapshin.”  

The speaker stressed that this process gives rise to more global concerns. "If Azerbaijan can make Belarus extradite a man for unclear reasons, this could have far-reaching goals. Who excludes the possibility that a citizen of Armenia, a politician or journalist who is not favorable for Azerbaijan, can find himself in Baku after visiting Minsk?” the speaker asked.  

Stepan Grigoryan also shared this concern.

“Imagine ethnic Armenians from France, Russia, Belarus and other countries, who have been in Karabakh and visit Belarus, are arrested by the Belarusian authorities and handed over to Azerbaijan. I think Azerbaijan is doing everything to isolate not only Armenia but also Karabakh, and these steps are aimed at that. Azerbaijan tried to stop the trend (the number of visitors to Karabakh has been increasing) in this way. Azerbaijan now found one country, I am not convinced that it is the only country that could extradite them. I do not exclude that Pakistan would do the same or other Muslim countries will do the same.”

Stepan Grigoryan believes that Armenia's authorities should take very drastic and effective measures in this situation, as the impact of blogger’s extradition may be much more extensive than perhaps we realize at this point.

He expressed the opinion that there should be a lot of noise in the international organizations - OSCE, EU, and the United Nations.

“The other official institution that should be used is the bilateral relations of Foreign Ministers - Armenia-Belarus.” 

During the discussion, Stepan Grigoryan also made a proposal, addressed to RA authorities and pledged his support for the implementation of this proposal. “Lukashenko perceives painfully when the people of global significance act against him. I promise the authorities to bring 10 people to Armenia within a week, let them tell us what is happening in Belarus. Lukashenko will react at the same minute; he said and added, “You must give a response in such situations.”  

To watch the video, follow the link.  

Arpine Arzumanyan website editor at “Media Center”

To contact the author please send an email to arpinearzumanyan@pjc.am.

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