Russian blogger extradited by Belarus: Travesty of justice and Minsk prison like death camp

Аlexander Lapshin

Blogger Alexander Lapshin, whom Belarus extradited to Baku, has told his readers about his stay in Minsk prison Nr 1:

“I believe the prison has not been renovated for about hundred years. Everything is dirty and shabby inside, it is terribly cold and wet <…> For the first night I was put in an empty cell. It was very dirty, with no windows, but there were dozens of rusty bunk beds without mattresses and bedclothes. To keep warm, I had to pace back and forth in my cell all night long. A toilet looked like a crap hole in the concrete floor with no doors or fences. in the early morning hours, they brought a guy in;, he was groaning and was on his ast legs. He fell upon an ison bed and explained that he had a hernia operation that day. The cops took him from hospital, he showed me an operation scar, it was bleeding,” Lapshin writes.

According to the blogger, in the Minsk prison he met big businessmen arrested on suspicion of embezzlement, two Colonels of the Interior Ministry, the directors of Ashmyany customs office, chief engineers, financial directors and foreigners – men from Japan, Brazil, Nigeria and Mongolia.

“The Japanese was deeply upset. He is well-known cartoonist in Japan, his name is Daichi Yoshida, and he wound up behind bars for nothing. He flew from Europe with a transfer in Minsk, and Belarusian customs officers found a souvenir pistol in his luggage. Although he said the pistol was fake, the poor man was detained, the gun was sent for examination. By that moment, it had been lasting for six months!” Lapshin stresses.

A specific post was devoted to Belarusian ethnographer Ales Yurkoyts, a defendant in the case of Ashmyany customs officers, who has been recently sentenced to 7 years in prison.

“Ales and I spent a month in a cell in detention centre Nr 1, this death camp at the very heart of Minsk. He is one of the best persons I have ever met in my life. He helped and supported, he was strong and courageous, despite all that was happening,” the blogger said.

Lapshin got familiarized with the case of Yurkoyts; he claims there were ‘unsubstantiated allegations’.

“Ales is not involved in politics, he simply believed that the Belarusian people should preserve their culture and language. He did not go to any rallies and did not belong to any opposition party. Friends, I was shocked and outraged; I witnessed the total lawlessness in this country which I once truly loved. Ales, brother, hold on! I do believe that justice will be served and this man will return home.”

Mr Lapshin is a citizen of Russia, Israel, and Ukraine.

Azerbaijani authorities accused Lapshin of violating the state border law. He got into the “black list” for visiting Nagorno-Karabakh Republic without approval from the authorities. In December 2016 the blogger was detained in Minsk, and in February 2017 he was handed to Azerbaijan, where he was sentenced to three years in prison.  Lapshin claims there was attempt on his life when he was in jail. In turn, Baku says that Lapshin attempted suicide.

In September 2917, Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev signed an order to pardon Alexander Lapshin.

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