Azerbaijani court sentences Russian-Israeli blogger to 3 years in jail


New York, July 20, 2017-A Baku court today convicted Russian-Israeli blogger Aleksandr Lapshin to three years in jail for illegally crossing the state border, worldwide and Azerbaijani media reported.

The president stressed that there is a change in worldwide public opinion on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

He was detained in Belarus in 2016 and extradited to Azerbaijan.

The region, which is about 4,500 square kilometres within predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan, is controlled by Christian Armenian separatists.

The Baku Court on Grave Crimes said Alexander Lapshin had illegally entered Azerbaijan by visiting the Karabakh region, now occupied by Armenia. As a result of the war, Armenian armed forces occupied some 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory which includes Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts (Lachin, Kalbajar, Aghdam, Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Gubadli and Zangilan), and over a million Azerbaijanis became refugees and internally displaced people.

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The court ruled that Lapshin illegally crossed Azerbaijan's internationally recognized borders when he traveled to Artsakh through Armenia in 2011 and 2012.

The blogger's extradition from Belarus came amid a rift between Russian Federation and Belarus, making the Lapshin case a highly politicized matter. He also insulted Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in his blog, which he told the court he regretted.

The remarks come after the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Spokesman called the upcoming elections "an attempt to undermine the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs".

A secular state that has long had warm relations with Israel, the overwhelmingly Muslim Azerbaijan is one of Israel's main trading partners, buying weapons systems and providing the Jewish state with the lion's share of its oil.