Baku City Court has sentenced blogger Aleksandr Lapshin to three years in prison for visiting Nagorno-Karabakh.
He was convicted on charges of violating Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, however, the court dropped charges of openly anti-state speech.
According to the Caucasian Knot, Lapshin apologised to the court for his visit, but still pleaded not guilty, saying that his visit to the region did not have any political motives, adding that he considers Nagorno-Karabakh to be Azerbaijani territory.
Forty-year-old Lapshin, a citizen of Russia, Ukraine, and Israel, was detained on Azerbaijan’s request in Belarus in mid-December and extradited to Baku on 8 February after the Belarusian Supreme Court upheld a ruling by a lower court.
Lapshin visited Nagorno-Karabakh in 2011–2012 and was placed on an official Azerbaijani government blacklist for this.
Under Azerbaijani law, it is illegal to cross into the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia, and it is impossible to do so from the Azerbaijani side.