A woman who claimed to have insider knowledge of Moscow’s attempts to meddle in the US elections has been detained in Russia, state media reported.
Anastasia Vashukevich, who goes by Nastya Rybka on social media, was deported from Thailand on Thursday after pleading guilty to charges including soliciting prostitution, a Thai immigration official said.
Upon arriving in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, Vashukevich was detained on suspicion of enticement into prostitution, state media RIA-Novosti reported.
Earlier Thursday, Vashukevich told CNN via text message that she was detained by a group of people “in civilian clothes” who did not introduce themselves or say why she was detained.
“They speak very rudely!” the text message said. “They say we must go with them for a couple of days somewhere!”
Vashukevich made headlines last year when she publicly asked the United States to help free her from a Thai detention center in exchange for information on alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The Belarus-born model was part of a group led by author and free sex advocate Alexander Kirillov.
A self-described “sex coach,” she was arrested in February 2018 in the Thai resort town of Pattaya while running so-called sex training sessions.
She was deported from Thailand after she and seven others unexpectedly pleaded guilty at the start of their trial to charges including soliciting prostitution and “forming and being a member of a secret society.”
They were each sentenced to 18 months in jail but they were released to serve the remainder of their sentence on parole.
The eight members of the group were put on a commercial flight to Moscow from Bangkok on Thursday, Thail immigration chief Lt. General Surachate Hakparn said.
Vasukevich and another Belarusian group member would then transit home to Belarus, Hakparn said.
A women who identified herself as Kirillov’s wife told Russian state media RIA-Novosti that Kirillov, Vashukevich and two others – Andrei Zhezhko and Maria Zharkova – were detained. “For how long and for what reason, we don’t know,” said the woman, who gave her name as Kristina.
It is not known whether Russian officials are interested in speaking to Vashukevich or Kirillov, who told CNN in 2018 that after stumbling upon evidence of Russian government meddling in the 2016 US election, they were in danger of knowing too much.
“They can kill me here or in Russia,” Vashukevich said at the time, speaking through the bars of the Bangkok Immigration Detention Center.
Claims of insider knowledge
Vashukevich claims to be the former mistress of Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, an ex-business associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
She told CNN from the detention center last March that she witnessed several meetings in 2016 and 2017 between Deripaska and at least three unnamed Americans. She refused to name them but said she had photographs of one of the Americans and more than an hour of audio recordings.
She refused to name them but said she had photographs of one of the Americans and more than an hour of audio recordings.
Vashukevich and Kirillov told CNN they were afraid to reveal potentially compromising information in the event they are deported to Russia, where they are believed to have been previously based.
Deripaska – who denies any affair – is a subject of political intrigue in US political circles, owing to his links with Manafort. The aluminum baron has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and was recently included on a US Treasury Department list of Russian government officials and 96 oligarchs with a net worth of $1 billion or more.
The aluminum baron has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and was recently included on a US Treasury Department list of Russian government officials and 96 oligarchs with a net worth of $1 billion or more.
Regarding his alleged relationship with Vashukevich, a representative for Deripaska told CNN last March: “This is clearly an attempt by Anastasia Vashukevich (aka Nastya Rybka) to politicize the accusations of the Thai police. There have been endless fictitious stories told by her, all serving to distract the public from real violations, including very serious breaches of law of many countries.”
Mary Ilyushina and Darya Tarasova reported from Moscow and Emanuella Grinberg wrote this story in Atlanta. Kocha Olarn and Ivan Watson reported from Thailand.