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Lapshin Released from Jail; Expected to Return to Israel In Coming Days

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Lapshin Released from Jail; Expected to Return to Israel In Coming Days

BAKU—The Russian-Israeli blogger Alexander Lapshin was released from an Azerbaijani prison on Tuesday after being a granted a pardon from that country’s president, Ilham Aliyev.

Lapshin, who was serving a three-year jail sentence for his writings about Artsakh, was convicted on July 20, but his sentence was abruptly commuted when Aliyev pardoned him. The pardon happened on the day that Azerbaijani Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov left for Israel on an official visit.

Lapshin’s attorney, Eduard Chernin, said that his client will leave Azerbaijan for Israel in the next few days, after his mother arrives in Baku.

“His [Lapshin’s] mother, Bella Lapshina, wants to come here [Baku], therefore we must wait. Lapshin will be sent to Israel in 1-2 days,” Chernin said.

Ahead of the pardon, Baku authorities reported that Lapshin had attempted suicide on Sunday as a protest for the delay in his extradition to Israel.

Chernin said that Lapshin was in good health after the suicide attempt.

The Artsakh Human Rights Defender, or ombudsman, Ruben Melikyan, said that Azerbaijan has failed in its plan to limit international coverage and activity in Artsakh since the arrest of Russian-Israeli blogger Alexander Lapshin.

Speaking to the Stepanakert-based news outlet Artsakhpress, Melikyan said he was happy that a wrongfully convicted and imprisoned man will now return home.

“Was the price of [Lapshin’s] freedom just a matter of changing positions and apologizing, or something else? It’s difficult to say. I believe it is the latter,” Melikyan said. “One thing is clear in Lapshin’s case: Azerbaijan had a goal of limiting foreign visits to Artsakh in order to preve...

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