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Israeli consul visits blogger detained by Minsk on Baku's demand

Israeli consul visits blogger detained by Minsk on Baku's demand

PanARMENIAN.Net - After a month-long detention and following heavy diplomatic pressure, the authorities in Belarus have allowed Israel’s consul in Minsk to visit Israeli blogger Alexander Lapshin. He is being detained there, pending extradition to Azerbaijan, where he is wanted in connection to criticism he posted against the regime of President Ilham Aliyev, Haaretz reports.

Lapshin’s wife, Yekaterina Kopilova, told Haaretz that she’d met Israel’s consul after the latter’s visit to her husband and had received an update on his condition. The consul has reportedly told her that Lapshin was in bad shape, and that he’s depressed and subjected to pressure by Belarus officials, who want him to sign a voluntary extradition document, which will prevent him from filing an appeal. “There is no good news,” said Kopilova.

Lapshin, who is 40, divides his time between Israel and other countries. He was arrested on January 15 in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, in response to a request by the Azerbaijani authorities, who have now demanded his extradition. The arrest was made a day after Prime Minister Netanyahu visited Baku. Lapshin was arrested after making several visits to the Nagorno Karabakh.

Since his arrest, the foreign ministry in Israel has been in contact with Azerbaijan’s government. Senior officials in the Azeri foreign ministry told Israeli diplomats in Baku that their government would not back down from its extradition request. The foreign ministry in Jerusalem is worried that the extradition might take place within days.

In relation to this incident, the foreign ministry has issued a warning to Israeli travelers "not to enter Karabakh without a permit from the Azeri government."

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