Azerbaijan’s president pardons jailed blogger
Azerbaijan’s president on Monday pardoned a Russian blogger who was jailed for traveling to a separatist-controlled region of the former Soviet republic.
Alexander Lapshin was detained in Belarus last year and extradited to Azerbaijan, where he was charged for his trip to Nagorno-Karabakh via Armenia several years ago. He was sentenced to three years in prison in July.
The office of President Ilham Aliyev said he had pardoned Lapshin, who had petitioned to be extradited to Israel. Lapshin holds Russian, Ukrainian and Israeli citizenship.
Since a separatist war ended in 1994, Nagorno-Karabakh has been under the control of forces that claim to be local ethnic Armenians but that Azerbaijan alleges include Armenian troops. Israel’s Foreign Ministry welcomed the pardon, saying it has carefully followed the case while Lapshin was incarcerated. “We look forward to seeing him soon in Israel and we will closely monitor the process of his return,” it said.