List of people declared personae non gratae in Azerbaijan

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Unless a visa or an official warrant is issued by Azerbaijani authorities, the government of Azerbaijan condemns any visit by foreign citizens to the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh (the de facto Republic of Artsakh), its surrounding territories and the Azerbaijani enclaves of Karki, Yuxarı Əskipara, Barxudarlı and Sofulu which are de jure part of Azerbaijan under Armenian control. Azerbaijan considers entering these territories through Armenia (as it is usually the case) a violation of its visa and migration policy. Foreign citizens who enter these territories will be permanently banned from entering Azerbaijan and will be included on the list of "undesirable people" by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan.[1][2]

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan has explained the matter thus:

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan would like to remind all nationals of foreign countries wishing to travel to Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied regions of Azerbaijan that due to continuing occupation by the Armed Forces of Armenia, these areas are temporarily out of control of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Any visit without the consent of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the above-mentioned territories, which are internationally recognized as an integral part of Azerbaijan is considered as a violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan and as a breach of national legislation, as well as relevant norms and principles of international law.
Accordingly, the Ministry calls all foreign nationals to refrain themselves from travelling to the occupied territories in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

The Ministry would like to remind that those who traveled to the occupied territories without prior permission of the Republic of Azerbaijan will be denied the entry to the Republic of Azerbaijan. In case of necessity, appropriate legal actions will be taken with regard to these persons.[3]

As of 11 October 2019, the list of people declared personae non gratae included 850 people.


Date unknown[edit]


  • Argentina Marcelo Cantelmi, Argentinian journalist


  • Austria Mark Dietzen, Executive Director of Americans for Artsakh


  • Estonia Kaupo Känd, senior adviser to the OSCE High Commissioner[4]
  • Serbia Mila Alečković Nikolić, Serbian professor and member of the Writers Union[4]
  • Canada Dave Loewen, City Councillor of Abbotsford[4]
  • Russia Sergey Markedonov, Russian MP[4]
  • Russia Valeri Spektor, President of the National Security Affairs of the Academy of Sciences of Russia[4]
  • Russia Sergey Glotoy, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Regulations and Organizational Issues[4]
  • Russia Yelena Semerikova, Member of Russian Public Chamber[4]
  • Russia Rumen Batalov, Russian political scientist[4]
  • Ukraine Sergei Valentinovich Pughacyov, Ukrainian city council member[4]







  • Russia Anastasia Karimova, Russian journalist[33]
  • Russia Alexander Shmelev, Russian journalist[33]
  • Russia Dmitry Bavyrin, Russian journalist[33]
  • Russia Marina Skorikova, Russian journalist[33]
  • Russia Svetlana Shmeleva, Russian journalist[33]
  • Turkey Zafer Noyan, Turkish arm-wrestler of Armenian descent



  • Italy Antonia Arslan, Italian writer[35]
  • Argentina Daniel Wizenberg, reporter
  • Argentina Ricardo Marquina Montanana, photojournalist



  • Germany Martin Sonneborn, Member of the European Parliament [38]
  • Israel Yaron Weiss, Israeli pro-Armenian activist
  • United Kingdom Euan McGivern, student at the University of Oxford
  • United Kingdom George Lee, student at the University of Oxford
  • Switzerland Ronnie Grob, journalist, editor-in-chief at Swiss monthly magazine Schweizer Monat[39]
  • Switzerland Stephan Bader, journalist at Schweizer Monat
  • Switzerland Alicia Romero, journalist at Schweizer Monat
  • Switzerland Lukas Rühli, journalist at Schweizer Monat

Removed from the list[edit]

The names of certain people initially declared personae non gratae were taken out of the list following formal requests and apologies on their part.

  • Turkey Nagehan Alçı, Turkish journalist of Akşam, was blacklisted in 2009 after a two-day visit to Nagorno-Karabakh for research purposes.[40] It was reported that she had referred to Nagorno-Karabakh as "100% Armenian land" in an interview on a television channel broadcast in Nagorno-Karabakh[41] Alçı later denied making such a statement, saying she had never mentioned the history of the region at all.[42] In 2013, she sent a request to the Azerbaijani government asking to exclude her from the "black list" and reaffirming her support of the territorial integrity of "brotherly Azerbaijan". Her request was granted in December 2013.[43]
  • Russia Aleksey Mitrofanov, Russian politician, was blacklisted in 2011 for attending the opening ceremony of a banquet hall in Stepanakert.[44] In a letter to the Azerbaijani foreign ministry, he expressed "sincere regret" for having visited Nagorno-Karabakh. The ban on his entry to Azerbaijan was lifted in September 2013.[45]
  • United States James Brooke, an American journalist blacklisted in 2011, was taken down from the list around the same time.[45]
  • Italy Al Bano, Italian singer, was declared persona non grata in 2010, after giving a concert in Nagorno-Karabakh.[46] In November 2013, the ban was lifted, after a letter was sent by Al Bano to the Azerbaijani foreign ministry in which stated he had had no information about the situation around Nagorno-Karabakh at the time of his visit.[47] In December 2013, Al Bano visited Azerbaijan together with other Italian pop stars of the 1970s and performed at a joint concert.
  • Germany Jürgen Klimke, member of the German Parliament, was on the list since September 2013, after holding a meeting with members of the Armenian community of Nagorno-Karabakh in Stepanakert. In his letter to the Azerbaijani government, Klimke said his visit had been unplanned and he had no idea of its repercussions. He voiced his support for Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and expressed regret with regard to his visit. His name did not appear on the list as of 17 March 2014.[48]
  • Moldova Constantin Moscovici, Moldovan singer,[30] was excluded from the list in February 2014, after he stated in a letter that his visit to Nagorno-Karabakh was not deliberate and that his position on the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan coincided with that of his country.[49]
  • Russia Artemy Lebedev, Russian designer and businessman, was removed from the list in February 2015 after a letter of apology sent to the Azerbaijani ambassador in Russia.[50] In his LiveJournal account, Lebedev wrote that five years prior he had done "a foolish thing" by visiting Nagorno-Karabakh without having done enough research and without a special permission from Azerbaijan. He called on others to obtain one if they ever decide to visit the region.[51]
  • Argentina Luis Faraoni, sub-editor of the newspaper Tiempo Argentino, was excluded from the list in April 2015, after expressing regret for visiting Nagorno-Karabakh and voicing his support for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan in a letter addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan.[52]
  • Sweden Swedish diplomat and former EU special representative in the South Caucasus Peter Semneby was excluded from the list in April 2015. According to the spokesperson of the Azerbaijan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Semneby had said in a letter sent to the Ministry that his unauthorised trip to Nagorno-Karabakh had enabled him to conclude that his opinion on the conflict in fact coincided with that of Azerbaijan.[53] Semneby refused to comment on the fact that he had been blacklisted from 2012 to 2015.[54]
  • The names of Switzerland Yannick Pelletier and Republic of Ireland Kevin O'Connell were removed from the list in the wake of the 42nd Chess Olympiad held in Baku, after official letters were submitted on their part to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan which the Ministry quoted as expressing regret for visiting the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and reaffirming Azerbaijan's territorial integrity.[55][56]




Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan spokesman Elman Abdullayev said the list is incomplete due to an ongoing investigation of more potential entry violations.[57] Abdullayev also claimed that "if the person who visited the occupied territories of Azerbaijan without the permission of the Azerbaijani side, regrets his actions, aware of the illegality of his visit and will appeal to the relevant authorities of Azerbaijan with an explanation, the Azerbaijani side is willing to consider this appeal on the exclusion of that person from the list."[58]


Investigative journalist and radio reporter Khadija Ismayilova, known for her anti-government publications, has noted that some of the people whose names appear on the list, especially those for whom no reason for the ban has been listed, are in fact journalists and human rights activists who apparently were barred from entering Azerbaijan for criticising the Azerbaijani government in their articles, as it was not evident if they had ever visited Nagorno-Karabakh.[59]

Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh[edit]

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic has criticised the Azerbaijan stance, stating:

Azerbaijan replaces the conflict settlement process with attempts to transfer the issue to the auspice of the UN, Council of Europe, European Parliament, and other international organizations. Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani party's requirement for the international organizations, states, and political figures to recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan grows into a political farce and its declaration of the citizens visiting the NKR "persona non grata" – into a comedy. The position of Azerbaijan is fully deprived of even hints of readiness for any compromise or concessions. This reconfirms the fact that official Baku doesn't want to resolve the Karabakh issue, trying to shift the blame for the failure onto Armenia.[60]



Following Azerbaijan's protests, governments of some countries whose citizens visited the occupied territory, as well as establishments that they were affiliated with at the time of the visit, described these visits as "personal decisions" of the said individuals and stated that those visits did not represent their official position.[61][62][63][64][65]

The US State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs website states that "traveling to the region of Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding occupied areas via Armenia without the consent of the Government of Azerbaijan could make you ineligible to travel to Azerbaijan in the future."[66]


François Rochebloine, Member of the French National Assembly and the head of the France-Armenia Friendship Group, commented on the Azerbaijani decision to ban his entrance to Azerbaijan, stating that it is an "honor" for him to be declared persona non grata in Azerbaijan.[67]

Ueli Leuenberger, a Swiss Member of Parliament, has stated that he is "grateful" for being blacklisted from Azerbaijan.[25]

The Spanish opera singer Montserrat Caballé visited the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic on 4 June 2013. She met the primate of the Diocese of Artsakh, archbishop Pargev Martirosyan, in Shushi's Ghazanchetsots Cathedral. She also visited Gandzasar and Stepanakert, the capital of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, where she met with President Bako Sahakyan. On 6 June 2013, the Azerbaijani government declared Caballé persona non grata.[68][69][70][71] On 9 June 2013, the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, awarded Caballé the Armenian Medal of Honor.[72]

Russian political expert Konstantin Zatulin, who repeatedly travelled to Nagorno-Karabakh to observe elections in the self-declared state, noted that “Azerbaijan demonstrates silliness” by having such a list, while his colleague Sergey Markedonov sarcastically expressed his happiness to have joined the company of Caballe and other celebrities.[73]

According to Russian-Israeli blogger Alexander Lapshin, who is included in the list, "Azerbaijani position towards Armenians is too complicated and Azerbaijanis themselves can not explain the approach of their government."[8]

Wayne Merry, a retired American diplomat and the senior fellow for Europe and Eurasia at the American Foreign Policy Council, condemned the Azerbaijani government and said that "this step first of all harms the Azerbaijani authorities" and it is a "striking example of self-isolation and simple policy."[74]

Argentinian journalist Marcelo Cantelmi who was blacklisted in 2005 wrote: "publishing a blacklist is a despicable and barbaric act. It is a discriminatory method, historically used by dictators and tyrants, that intends to punish divergent opinions in a brutal manner".[75]

Nicholas Wondra, an expert on Caucasus, was found himself in the Azerbaijani "black list" although he has never been in Karabakh. He added that "as far as I have been included in the list, now I must visit Karabakh as an expert on Caucasus."[74]

Zafer Noyan, an ethnic Turkish arm-wrestler, was barred from entering Azerbaijan because his last name resembled that of an Armenian.[76]

Syrian American journalist of Armenian descent Harut Sassounian in an article written in August 2013 stated that "Baku’s Blacklist of Artsakh Visitors Helps Armenia, Hurts Azerbaijan". He added, "Azerbaijan’s leaders may not be aware that some of their incompetent underlings are causing great harm to the interests and reputation of their own country."[77]

Violation of the entry ban[edit]

Russian-Israeli blogger Alexander Lapshin visited Nagorno-Karabakh twice, in April 2011 and October 2012, and was subsequently placed on the list of personae non gratae. In June 2015, he arrived in Azerbaijan using a Ukrainian passport where his first name was spelled differently. This led to his name not being recognised by the airport black list database and him being able to pass the security control. Upon arriving back in Russia, Lapshin posted a blog entry in which he poked fun at the Azerbaijani border control, law enforcement agencies and the ruling government for having failed to identify him as a blacklisted person. On 15 December 2016, upon arriving at the Minsk airport, Lapshin was detained by the Belarusian police following an arrest warrant issued by Azerbaijan. On 7 February 2017, Lapshin was extradited to Azerbaijan where he was charged with making public statements against the state and its territorial integrity and illegal border crossing. Russian, Israeli and Armenian government officials condemned the extradition of a blogger from Belarus to Azerbaijan. Amnesty International condemned the extradition as well and called for immediate release of Lapshin from a custody. The Council of Europe (PACE) also condemned Azerbaijan for violation of Lapshin's rights and called for his release. On September 11, the President of Azerbaijan signed a resolution to pardon Alexander Lapshin, sentenced on July 20 to three years of imprisonment on the charge of illegally crossing the country's border. After release from custody, Alexander Lapshin was brought to a hospital. According to the Azerbaijani authorities, he committed a suicide attempt. Lapshin has called an attempt of a murder an incident in the Baku prison, which the Azerbaijani authorities presented as a suicide attempt. In Israel, Alexander Lapshin underwent a medical examination, according to which medical officers indicated that the nature of some injuries resembled physical violence rather than a suicide attempt. In January 2018, the blogger appealed to the European Court of Human Rights against the Republic of Azerbaijan.

See also[edit]


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  73. ^ Black List for Black Garden
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