Belarus To Extradite Russian Blogger To Azerbaijan

MINSK -- Belarusian prosecutors have ruled to extradite Russian-Israeli blogger Aleksandr Lapshin to Azerbaijan, where he is accused of separatism.

A spokesman for the Prosecutor-General's Office, Pyotar Kisyalyou, announced the ruling to RFE/RL on January 20.

He did not provide any further details.

But other sources at the Prosecutor-General's Office said deputy state prosecutor Alyaksey Stuk had signed the extradition order on January 17.

Lapshin, who lives in Moscow and writes a Russian-language travel blog, was detained in Minsk in mid-December on an extradition request from Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijani prosecutors accuse him of illegally visiting Nagorno-Karabakh region and calling for the recognition of the breakaway region's independence from Azerbaijan.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has called on Minsk to "unconditionally" release Lapshin.

If extradited, tried, and convicted, he faces up to eight years in prison.