In 2017 Israeli citizen journalist Alexander Lapshin was arrested in Minsk at the request of the Azerbaijani authorities and extradited to Baku, because of a visit to Artsakh (Nagorno-Kabakh). Lapshin will speak about his imprisonment (see details) at this gathering on Saturday, 3 June 2023.
While he talks about his ordeal it is expected that Lapshin will elaborate on the Armenian POWs held in Azeri jails.
It is highly likely that the attendees will ask him what his opinion is about Israel’s continuous arms shipments to Azerbaijan and their use against Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh) and the Republic of Armenia.
Furthermore, it will be worthwhile to ask the journalist what his views are about the constant harassment of Armenians in Jerusalem by Israelis which tacitly is sanctioned by the authorities who pursue a policy of Judaization of Jerusalem.
Alexander Lapshin is a well-known Israeli-Ukrainian-Russian tourism blogger and journalist. He traveled to more than 150 countries.
Lapshin visited Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) twice, in 2011 and 2012, resulting in the “blacklisting” and targeted by Azerbaijan.
Even though Lapshin had never been internationally wanted by Interpol, he was arrested in Minsk (Belarus) at the request of the President of Azerbaijan and, on February 7, 2017, extradited to Baku on Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s personal jet, because of a tourist visit to Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). The Belarussian President Aleksander Lukashenko’s order to extradite him to Azerbaijan was aired live, and later, Aliyev thanked Lukashenko for the extradition decision. The decision sparked widespread media attention. 5 countries, including Israel and The Republic of Armenia, actively protested his extradition on the diplomatic level. As a result, diplomats and officials from five countries were actively involved in the case. The representative of the US State Department, John Kirby spoke about the Lapshin case in one of the interviews.
Many international organizations, including Amnesty International and OSCE, criticized and demanded the release of the blogger from jail. On September 7, 2022, the UN Human Rights Committee adopted a resolution recognizing the Belarussian authorities as guilty of the legal arrest and subsequent extradition to Azerbaijan of Alexander Lapshin. The resolution emphasizes that visiting Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) as a journalist cannot be considered a criminal offense and also states that the extradition to Azerbaijan potentially threatened the journalist’s life and should not have occurred.
On the night of September 11, 2017, Lapshin was attacked in a solitary confinement cell of a Baku pre-trial detention center. On the morning of September 11, Ali Hasanov, a personal adviser to the Azerbaijan president, made a statement that Lapshin had attempted suicide but that the correctional officers managed to save his life. It was also stated that, in connection with this incident, it was decided to pardon him by presidential decree. Lapshin spent three days in the intensive care unit of a Baku hospital and was deported to Israel on a personal jet of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev. After arriving in Israel and fighting for his life at the Israeli hospital, Lapshin made a statement to the press that he had not committed suicide and that he had been attacked in Baku with the aim of murder. Medical examinations conducted in Israel confirmed the blogger’s version of the attempted murder, which contradicted the official position of the Baku authorities. Independent experts in the Netherlands also confirmed the assassination version, which became the basis for filing a complaint against Azerbaijan to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
At the beginning of 2018, Alexander Lapshin filed a lawsuit against Azerbaijan in the European Court of Human Rights (EHCR), in which he accused Azerbaijan of attempted murder, torture, and illegal imprisonment. His lawyer is Karina Moskalenko, who also represents Alexey Navalny in a complaint against the Russian Federation. On December 15, 2018, the European Court notified Lapshin’s lawyers that he had begun communication with the Azerbaijani authorities, having decided that the evidence presented about the attempted murder in a Baku prison, the infliction of grievous bodily harm and torture was enough to initiate proceedings against Azerbaijan. On May 20, 2021, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled on the blogger’s complaint against the Republic of Azerbaijan, finding the country’s authorities responsible for the illegal arrest, torture, and attempted murder against Lapshin.
In February 2019, it became known about the re-initiation of criminal proceedings by the General Prosecutor of Azerbaijan against the blogger and journalist Alexander Lapshin.
On December 15, 2019, information was published about an attempt to kidnap the blogger during his stay in Riga (Latvia) for a tourism forum. According to Israeli and Russian media reports, the order to abduct Lapshin came personally from Azerbaijan President’s inner circle. Thanks to the actions of local Latvian law enforcement authorities, Lapshin was subsequently able to return to Israel.
After his release, Lapshin has been actively involved in the struggle for human rights; he has repeatedly spoken in organizations such as the UN, PACE, OSCE, and at various international forums and conferences. Also in Washington, the blogger met with Armenian President Armen Sargsyan, congressmen Brad Sherman and David Price, whom he acquainted with the violation of human rights in Azerbaijan.