Time in Yerevan: 11:07:36,   18 October

You can visit the Moon, but not Nagorno-Karabakh: the mind-boggling politics of Azerbaijan’s Aliyev administration – Huffingtonpost

YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 23, ARMENPRESS. The American Huffingtonpost has published an article referring to the violations of freedom of movement by Azerbaijan and declaring manhunt against blogger Alexander Lapshin.

“Armenpress” reports in the article headlined “You can visit the Moon, but not Nagorno-Karabakh: the mind-boggling politics of Azerbaijan’s Aliyev administration” introduces the background of Nagorno Karabakh conflict and how another dictator, Joseph Stalin, forcefully encompassed Artsakh, with 95% Armenian population, into Azerbaijani SSR in 1921, setting the grounds for the contemporary conflict. The article also refers to the violations of the dictatorial regime of Aliyev’s clan.

“Among other ploys, Baku has continued to insist that any foreigner who visits NKR has actually illegally trespassed onto Azeri lands. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan has declared 683 of these unfortunates as personae non grata. When you consider that over 25,000 tourists have actually visited NKR in the last two years alone, you realize how incomplete the list is and how absurd Baku’s persecution of Aleksander Lapshin. Of course, Azeri officials can only blacklist those people whose names come to them through print and social media or other public avenues. The US astronaut Charles Duke, the Spanish opera star Montserrat Caballe and France’s incumbent Minister of the Interior Bruno Le Roux all figure prominently on this list. Duke was the 10th human being to walk on the moon aboard Apollo 16, but after visiting NKR, he may never set foot in Azerbaijan—assuming he’d ever want to”, writes the article.

Lapshin is a traveler-journalist who has visited 120 countries. In late 2016 he visited Belarus – a decision for which he must have regretted. He was extradited to Azerbaijan on February 7, 2017.

“Not surprisingly, both Aliyev and Belarussian President Aleksander Lukashenko are on Reporters Without Borders’ Predators of Press Freedom list. Lukashenko originally cited Lapshin’s supposed presence on Interpol’s database as grounds for his decision to detain him. Interpol headquarters in Lyon, France deny its participation in the blogger’s arrest…not surprisingly perhaps, strange happenings have occurred on Lapshin’s Live Journal blog since he arrived in Baku: his posts about NKR have disappeared and Nagorno-Karabakh has been removed from the list of countries that he has visited. According to the CPJ, some 259 journalists worldwide currently languish in jail, six in Azerbaijan alone, a remarkable number for the small country of seven million on the Caspian. Reaction around the world in defense of Lapshin has been swift. And in a possibly related answer to Azeri tactics, Russia recently detained 200 Azeri citizens in a sports hall in Dagestan, citing territorial violations as the reason for their actions”, reads the article.

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