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Jewish Travel Blogger Gets 3-Year Prison Term In Azerbaijan For Visiting Enclave

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli blogger who also holds Russian and Ukrainian citizenship was sentenced to three years in prison in Azerbaijan for illegally entering Nagorno-Karabakh, which is disputed territory with Armenia.

Alexander Lapshin, 40, of Haifa, writes a Russian-language travel blog called Life Adventures that chronicles his trips to 122 countries, as well as his life in Israel.

Lapshin traveled twice to Nagorno-Karabakh, and told the court this week that he did not know there was an Azeri law against visiting there. He also insulted Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in his blog, which he told the court he regretted.

Lapshin also called the Azeri people friendly and said he was well treated in prison, Haaretz reported.

He was detained in Belarus last year and extradited to Azerbaijan in February.

Israeli lawmaker Ksenia Svetlova of the Zionist Union called on President Reuven Rivlin to intervene on Lapshin’s behalf in order to obtain a pardon for him.

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