QATAR, May 29, 2019 — The headline of this story, which covers several aspects of the Kuwait-Russia relationship, is “Kuwait looks to Russia for help on Yemen war.” We have copied the section regarding Marsha Lazareva below.
Read the full story in The Peninsula.
Marsha Lazareva was a successful businesswoman in the MENA region before being convicted in Kuwait’s judicial system of misusing public funds. Her groundless case relied largely on testimony from a single discredited witness from the Kuwait State Audit Bureau who presented forged financial documents. The court issued a verdict without allowing her legal counsel to present a defense and she is now serving a 10-year sentence, which began almost one year ago, in Kuwait’s Sulaibiya prison. As a Russian citizen, her case has created major concerns in Russia that have trickled up to the highest levels of government.
In March, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed in the Bayan Palace to discuss Yemen, the Lazareva case, and a host of other issues. Although the top Russian diplomat’s attempts to secure Lazareva’s release failed during that visit, the fact that Lavrov pressed the Kuwaiti leadership to grant her freedom underscores how the incarcerated CEO’s case has become an issue in Kuwaiti-Russian relations.
Last year, Crowell & Moring LLP, counsel for Lazareva, filed a notice of international arbitration with Kuwait for violating a longstanding bilateral investment treaty (“the Agreement between the Russian Federation and the State of Kuwait on the Encouragement and Mutual Protection of Investments”) in breach of international law. The notice alleges that the “erroneous charges” against the Russian national factor into a “coordinated campaign to damage her reputation… and diminish the value of her investments”. To be sure, the plight of this prominent Russian businesswoman will remain a source of tension until her release, especially as a growing number of voices in the global media raise alarm over Lazareva’s situation in a prison known for being overcrowded while her health continues to suffer.