TEL AVIV—The Russian-Israeli blogger, Alexander Lapshin, who served time in a Baku prison for his writings about Artsakh and was later pardoned and sent to Israel, has exposed a plot by the Azerbaijani authorities to exchange him with two Azerbaijani saboteurs who are currently serving a prison sentence in Artsakh.
“In February 2017, the Azerbaijani authorities applied to Russia, offering them to meditate to exchange me with two Azerbaijani citizens,” Lapshin wrote on his Facebook page referring to Dilham Askerov and Shahbaz Guliyev, who were captured entering Artsakh armed with Kalashnikovs and other weapons, but claimed to have mistakenly crossed the border.
“In a Stepanakert court they said that a child had seen them, so they had to kill him. Afterward they ran across forests, and were in hiding before they ended up in one of the villages, where they again killed several people. The third ‘tourist’ was gunned down by the Armenian military in a shootout. In short, the so called ‘tourists’ who came from Azerbaijan armed with Kalashnikovs, were sentenced to life in prison by the Karabakh court,” Lapshin detailed in his Facebook post.
The blogger went on to explain that this Azerbaijani plot baffled Russian authorities, who were unable to see the connection between Lapshin that the Azerbaijani saboteurs.
“And, most important, under which article would Armenia release murderers from prison in exchange for me, when I am not an Armenian citizen?” said Lapshin.
The Azerbaijani authorities issued a warrant for Lapshin’s arrest, stemming from his travels to Artsakh after which he published several travelogues on his blog. In December, authorities in the Belarus capital of Minks detained and extradited him to Baku, where he was charged with and served time in prison, only to be pardoned by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on September 11.
Azerbaijani authorities also claimed that Lapshin had attempted suicide a day before his pardon. After leaving Baku for Israel, the blogger clarified that he did not attempt suicide but rather was brutally beaten in prison.