Photos by Armen Simonyan
“It is a great honor for me to participate in this tourism exhibition. I would like to thank Armenia and the Armenian people for supporting me when I was illegally sentenced in Azerbaijan. I felt that I was not alone,” Alexander Lapshin said.
The blogger shared stories about the days he spent in Azerbaijan and the brutalities. “On September 10, my mother’s day, prisoners attacked me in my cell, beat and suffocated me, broke my teeth and my hips. When I was unconscious, they put a belt around my neck and hung it in the bathroom so that they could declare that I had hung myself. Later, I was granted amnesty by Ilham Aliyev. This “show” ended successfully with my return.”
In a couple of days, in Strasbourg, Lapshin will speak out about the Azerbaijani government’s actions, how the government deprived him of his liberty and communication with the exterior, kept him in a cell for seven months and violated his rights.
During his trips, Alexander Lapshin also visited Artsakh, and this visit became the reason why Azerbaijan included the blogger’s name in the country’s “black list” in 2011.
The problem with the Azerbaijani government became more intensified when Lapshin managed to leave Georgia for Azerbaijan with a Ukrainian passport in 2015. He wasn’t arrested since the name “Alexander” was written in Ukrainian as “Oleksandr” in the Ukrainian passport.
On the night of December 15, 2016, Alexander Lapshin, who was being persecuted by the Azerbaijani government, was arrested in Minsk for visiting Artsakh. Nearly two months later, on the night of February 6, the blogger was extradited to Azerbaijan where he was transported to Baku in a special plane. On July 20, 2017, Lapshin was sentenced to three years in prison.