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22.01.2019 Escort Who Claimed to Have Proof of Russian Meddling Is Released From Detention.

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https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/22/world/europe/nastya-rybka-russia.html

 

Escort Who Claimed to Have Proof of Russian Meddling Is Released From Detention.

 

Anastasia Vashukevich, a Belarusian escort and blogger who also goes by the name Nastya Rybka, at a court hearing in Moscow on Saturday.
Anastasia Vashukevich, a Belarusian escort and blogger who also goes by the name Nastya Rybka, at a court hearing in Moscow on Saturday.CreditCreditMaxim Shipenkov/EPA, via Shutterstock
  • Jan. 22, 2019

MOSCOW — An escort from Belarus who posted video online showing her on the yacht of one of Russia’s richest oligarchs along with a senior Russian official was released from detention in Moscow on Tuesday, her lawyer told the government news agency Tass.

The escort, Anastasia Vashukevich, who is the author of a book titled “Who Wants to Seduce a Billionaire” and also goes by the name Nastya Rybka, arrived in Moscow last Thursday after being deported from Thailand over her involvement in a sex-training seminar aimed at male Russian tourists, and was immediately arrested at the airport.

Her lawyer, Svetlana Sidorkina, told Tass that Ms. Vashukevich and Alexander Kirillov, a self-described Russian “sex guru” also known as Alex Leslie, who was also deported from Thailand and detained upon arrival in Moscow, remained suspects in a case involving “enticement to prostitution” but had been released on their own recognizance.

A video showing Ms. Vashukevich being manhandled by Russian police officers at Sheremetyevo Airport, which serves Moscow, stirred outrage among her followers on social media and those of Aleksei Navalny, a Russian anti-corruption campaigner who posted video footage of the yacht trip on his website last year.

Mr. Navalny’s video severely embarrassed the owner of the yacht, the Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska, and Sergei E. Prikhodko, a former deputy prime minister who was also onboard and is now deputy chief of the Russian government’s administrative apparatus. Mr. Deripaska has been under sanctions imposed by the United States along with other Russian magnates close to the Kremlin.

Mr. Navalny said on his website Monday that leaked audio recordings showed that Mr. Deripaska, who had a business relationship with President Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul J. Manafort, orchestrated the arrest of Ms. Vashukevich. She was first detained in Thailand last year and then seized by Russian police officers last Thursday at the airport in Moscow.

 
 

Mr. Deripaska’s ties to Mr. Manafort, who has pleaded guilty to charges bought by the team of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, have made the oligarch a bit character in various tangled story lines around the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

The surprise release on Tuesday of the detained Belarusian escort followed media reports that Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Ms. Vashukevich’s home country, had intervened on her behalf.

Mr. Deripaska has stayed silent, saying only that he skipped this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, an event he usually attends, to go fishing on Lake Baikal in Russia. Some interpreted that comment as a dig at Ms. Vashukevich, whose pseudonym, Rybka, means “little fish” in Russian.

While in Thailand, Ms. Vashukevich claimed that she had audio recordings that could link Russia with Mr. Trump’s election, but no such recordings have come to light, and many doubt they exist.

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