Days after her arrest at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, Anastasia Vashukevich, the Belarusian woman at the center of a strange incident involving the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, has been released from Russian custody.
A bizarre saga which stretches back one year after her arrest in Thailand on charges of running an illegal “sex-training” course along with nine others, Ms. Vashukevich, who is also know as Nastya Rybka, claimed after her arrest by Thai police she held first-hand knowledge of contact between Donald Trump’s campaign for the White House and Russian businessmen.
After being detained in February 2018, Vashukevich promised to provide ironclad evidence of collusion between Trump officials and the Russian government in exchange for asylum in the U.S. At the time of her arrest, Vashukevich said she could furnish both audio and video evidence of “Russian government crimes” to U.S. journalists.
Vashukevich, claimed to have obtained conversations through her relationship with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska which would expose part of the relationship between Russia and Trump officials during the 2016 election.
Vashukevich hinted Deripaska was an intermediary between Russian government officials and the Trump campaign.
In an Instagram post Vashukevich claims was taken in Norway in 2016, the escort is seen with a Russian man identified as Sergey Prichodko, a top Kremlin official and adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Conversation over U.S.-Russian relations and foreign policy is heard on the video.
Deripaska is alleged to have contact with former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort. Manafort allegedly promised private briefings to the metals magnate in exchange for a personal debt owed. Deripaska has denied any relationship with Vashukevich whatsoever and has denied the two were lovers.
While awaiting charges in Bangkok, Vashukevich made the claim she was in possession of 16 hours of video and audio recordings which would shed light on Russian interference in the U.S. election. Vashukevich’s claims of evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election have never been corroborated.
Vashukevich was deported from Thailand on Jan. 17. She had faced up to three years behind bars for forcing women into prostitution, but instead received a suspended sentence from a Thai judge along with four associates.
After remaining in a Moscow jail cell for several days, Vashukevich appeared in court and promised she would not upload any more video or audio recordings claimed to be in her possession.
“There won’t be any more audio recordings about Oleg Deripaska. I won’t compromise him anymore, so he can relax, really, I’ve had enough,” Vashukevich told reporters after her court appearance.
In an interview with CNN following her release, Vashukevich said Russian agents warned her not to “touch Oleg Deripaska anymore.”
Editor’s note: This article has been updated since its original publication.
[Reuters] [The Moscow Times] [AP via Japan Times] [The Independent] [Photo courtesy Nastya Rybka/Instagram via CNN]