Seeking asylum, Belarusian escort offers information about Trump and Russia

Model and blogger Anastasia Vashukevich, who also goes by the name Nastya Rybka, was arrested in Pattaya along with nine others for helping to conduct a sex workshop.
Model and blogger Anastasia Vashukevich, who also goes by the name Nastya Rybka, was arrested in Pattaya along with nine others for helping to conduct a sex workshop.PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/NASTYA RYBKA
Hoping to avoid deportation, the Belarusian escort has offered information about US President Donald Trump and Russia.
Hoping to avoid deportation, the Belarusian escort has offered information about US President Donald Trump and Russia.PHOTO: REUTERS

PATTAYA (NYTIMES) - It has all the makings of a pulp novel, though the ending is still a mystery.

A high-end escort from Belarus, who says she was the mistress of a powerful Russian oligarch, flees to Thailand. But at a seaside resort known for its raunchy entertainment scene, she gets arrested for helping to conduct a sex workshop.

Hoping to avoid deportation, she offers information about US President Donald Trump and Russia. But her appeal is for naught. No one has come forward to grant asylum.

Such has been the saga this week of Anastasia Vashukevich, who also goes by the name Nastya Rybka.

The 21-year-old model and blogger was arrested on Sunday (Feb 25) in the Thai holiday town of Pattaya along with nine others involved in the sex training course, which was aimed at male Russian tourists.

"She will be deported," said the chief of Thailand's Immigration Bureau, Suttipong Wongpin, in an interview on Thursday. "Her immigration offence is working without a work permit."

In events that have played out publicly on Instagram and YouTube for months, Vashukevich has revealed what she says was her close association with aluminium tycoon Oleg V. Deripaska and his friendship with Russia's powerful deputy prime minister, Sergei E. Prikhodko.

Deripaska has business ties to Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, who is under investigation by Robert Mueller, the special counsel looking into the campaign's connections to Russia.

Financial records show that companies controlled by Manafort owed millions of dollars to Deripaska, a billionaire with close ties to Russia's president, Vladimir Putin. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Manafort offered to give Deripaska private briefings.

Vashukevich, in a video she apparently recorded in the back of a Thai police truck after her arrest, said she could provide evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

She claims to have detailed information about connections between Russian officials, Manafort and Trump - if only someone could get her out of Thai detention.

Her assertion of inside knowledge might be easily dismissed but for a 25-minute video investigation posted last month on YouTube by Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny, which relies heavily on videos and photos from Vashukevich.

In particular, it includes video footage from 2016 of Deripaska sailing on his yacht with Prikhodko and a description of their meeting in a book by Vashukevich.

Navalny asserted that the yacht trip was a bribe from Deripaska to Prikhodko and said Vashukevich was one of "several" prostitutes aboard the vessel. In one part of the video, the two men can be heard discussing Russian-US relations.

The video has had more than 6.2 million views despite efforts in Russia to block it.

Deripaska said through a spokesman that Navalny's allegations of bribery and prostitutes were a "hot story that appears far from being the truth".

In a last-ditch effort to prevent Vashukevich's deportation from Thailand, her associate Alexander Kirillov, also known as Alex Lesley, distributed a letter addressed to "USA Consul", seeking political asylum for all 10 of the arrested sex workshop trainers.

Kirillov, who was alleged to be running the sex seminar, was in immigration detention after being arrested.

The letter claims that their lives are at risk and reiterates the offer of inside information about communications between the oligarch, the deputy prime minister and people in the United States.

"Help us and protect us as quickly as possible because we have very important information for USA," the letter says.

A spokesman for the US Embassy in Bangkok declined to comment.

Suttipong, a police lieutenant-general, said Vashukevich remained in detention. He said her visa was revoked after she was found to be working in Pattaya, about 120km south of Bangkok.

Five others arrested in connection with their roles in the sex training will also be deported, he said, and the other four will remain in Thailand, where they may face criminal charges.

In an Instagram post on Wednesday, Vashukevich said she was being taken to the main immigration detention centre in Bangkok.

"We're being transported to another prison again," she wrote. "To Bangkok. They don't explained WHY."