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Azerbaijan's President Pardons Blogger Jailed For Visiting Nagorno-Karabakh

  • RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service

Russian-Israeli blogger Aleksandr Lapshin is escorted upon his landing in Baku after being extradited from Belarus on February 7.

BAKU -- Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has pardoned a Russian-Israeli blogger who was jailed after traveling to the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Aliyev's adviser Ali Hasanov said on September 11 that Aleksandr Lapshin will most likely be sent to Israel within the next few days.

Hasanov also revealed that Lapshin was currently receiving medical assistance after he attempted to commit suicide while in Azerbaijani custody.

Lapshin was detained in Belarus in 2016 and extradited to Azerbaijan, where he was charged with illegally visiting Azerbaijan's breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is controlled by ethnic Armenian separatists.

Lapshin entered Nagorno-Karabakh through Armenia, without Baku's permission, in 2011 and 2012. In July, a court in Baku sentenced him to three years in an Azerbaijani prison.

Lapshin holds Russian, Ukrainian, and Israeli citizenship.

He has maintained his innocence, saying his visit to Nagorno-Karabakh was not for any political motives and that he considered Nagorno-Karabakh to be Azerbaijani territory.

Since a separatist war ended in 1994, Nagorno-Karabakh has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces which Baku says include troops supplied by Armenia.

With reporting by APA
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