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Russia Says Businesswoman Sentenced in Kuwait Is ‘Safe’ After Embezzlement Verdict

Maria Lazareva Personal Archive

A Russian businesswoman appears to be safe after Kuwait handed her a long jail term for embezzlement, the Kommersant business daily has reported.

Reports said Monday that a Kuwaiti court had sentenced investment executive Marsha Lazareva to 15 years in prison for money laundering. A U.S. law firm leading the international effort to secure Lazareva’s release decried her conviction as an “egregious human rights violation.”

Lazareva was “in a safe place” and did not attend her sentencing Monday, Kommersant cited the head of Moscow’s chamber of commerce and a member of her U.S.-based legal support group as saying.

She may be inside the Russian Embassy in Kuwait City, Kuwait’s al-Qabas daily cited unnamed sources as saying Monday.

“We’re doing everything possible to protect the rights of Russian citizens,” the Russian Foreign Ministry told Kommersant when asked to confirm Lazareva’s location in the embassy Tuesday.

Lazareva was initially sentenced to 10 years hard labor in 2018 for misusing Kuwait’s public funds invested into its port fund, then released on bail a year later. 

Monday’s court verdict obtained by Russian media orders Lazareva and a Kuwaiti co-defendant to return $9.4 million. 

Lazareva’s attorneys and supporters plan to appeal her conviction and seek U.S. and UN support in an effort to secure her release, the U.S. law firm Crowell & Moring said in a press release.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was said to be closely monitoring Lazareva’s case and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had raised it during his March visit to Kuwait, Kommersant reported earlier this year.

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