Jailed Russian Blogger Who Attempted Suicide Gets Azeri Pardon

Azeri President Ilham Aliyev on Monday pardoned Alexander Lapshin after the Russian blogger attempted to kill himself in protest against his delayed extradition to Israel.

Lapshin, 41, who also holds an Israeli passport, was prevented by prison guards from taking his own life, according to Ali Hasanov, an aide to the president. He’s now receiving medical treatment, Hasanov told state news agency Azartac, without giving details on the blogger’s condition.

Alexander Lapshin in February

Photograpehr: Tofik Babayev/AFP via Getty Images

Detained in Belarus in December at Azerbaijan’s request, Lapshin was flown to Baku despite protests by the Russian Foreign Ministry. A Baku court in July sentenced him to three years in prison for violating the Azeri border to visit the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a charge he rejected.

While the blogger was set for extradition, the procedure was delayed by the Israeli authorities, Hasanov said.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as being part of Azerbaijan but has been under Armenian control since a three-year war ended in 1994. The Azeri government says all foreigners are required to ask the authorities in Baku for permission to visit the region. The Azeri Foreign Ministry has compiled a list of foreign journalists and dignitaries blacklisted for traveling to Karabakh without Baku’s permit.

Lapshin repeatedly visited Karabakh and wrote about the region on his travel blog. His defense lawyer Eduard Chernin didn’t respond to phone calls seeking comment.

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