For the first time ever, a foreign citizen who visited breakaway Nagorno Karabakh, the Caucasus’ main flashpoint, is now on trial in Azerbaijan for allegedly violating the country’s borders. Its outcome could have serious implications for how far governments can go – or should go – in attempting to reassert control over separatist territories.
In the defendant’s seat is Alexander Lapshin, a globe-trotting travel blogger in his early 40s with Russian, Ukrainian and Israeli citizenship. Azerbaijan bars international visits to Karabakh without its prior approval and blacklists selected offenders. But never before has a foreign visitor been detained in a third country (Belarus) for such an alleged offense and then extradited to Baku for trial.
Lapshin, charged with illegal border-crossing and violating Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, may face up to eight years in prison if convicted.
To read the full story