Belarusian model who offered to trade US election info is released from jail
A Belarusian model who claimed to have insider knowledge of Russian attempts to meddle in the US elections has been freed from police custody in Moscow, state media reported.
The model, Anastasia Vashukevich, was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport last Thursday on prostitution allegations after being deported from Thailand, where she had spent nearly a year behind bars for soliciting. She remains a suspect in a prostitution case, TASS reported.
Vashukevich, along with seven others, pleaded guilty to charges of solicitation and conspiracy at a court in the Thai resort town of Pattaya, where they were arrested in February 2018 while running so-called sex training sessions. They were each sentenced to 18 months in jail but they were released to serve the remainder of their sentence on parole.
The 28-year-old self-styled “sex expert,” who also goes by Nastya Rybka on social media, made international headlines last year when she offered to swap secret audio recordings allegedly shedding light on President Donald Trump’s links to Russia for asylum in the United States.
Vashukevich claimed to have obtained the recordings during her affair with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, an ex-business associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. She told CNN from the Thai detention center last March that she witnessed meetings in 2016 and 2017 between Deripaska and at least three unnamed Americans.
Deripaska — who denies any affair — is a subject of political intrigue in US political circles, owing to his links with Manafort.
Appearing in court on Saturday, Vashukevich apologized to Deripaska for hurting his reputation.
Travel restrictions have been placed on Vashukevich so that she can attend future court hearings.
Vashukevich had planned to return home to Belarus after arriving in Moscow last week. She and the seven others arrested with her were put on a commercial flight to Moscow from Bangkok on Thursday, Thai immigration chief Lt. General Surachate Hakparn said.
The Belarus-born model was part of a group led by author and free sex advocate Alexander Kirillov.
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.