A model who last year claimed to have evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election apologized to a Russian tycoon for the claim and won’t say more about the matter.
Anastasia Vashukevich, 21, who also works as a sex coach, appeared calm as she was led in Nagatinsky District Court of Moscow in handcuffs by officers dressed in a black puffer jacket and a grey hooded top.
She was detained at a Moscow airport on charges of prostitution after being deported from Thailand.
She apologized for her claim in a Moscow court that was considering whether to keep her in jail as she faces charges of inducement to prostitution. The court extended her detention for three more days.
Vashukevich’s statement appears to head off any chance of her speaking to U.S. investigators looking into possible collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump’s campaign.
Vashukevich, who goes by the name Nastya Rybka on social media, was arrested in Thailand last February on prostitution charges.
She and several others were arrested in connection with a sex training seminar they were holding in Thailand.
After her arrest she claimed she had audio tapes of Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska, who is close to President Vladimir Putin, talking about interference in the U.S. election.
Anastasia Vashukevich, 21, who also works as a sex coach, was led in Nagatinsky District Court of Moscow where there was a heavy media presence for the first hearing against her
Vashukevich was arrested in Thailand on charges of prostitution for running a sex training course, before being flown back to an airport in Moscow
Vashukevich was led into Nagatinsky District Court of Moscow in handcuffs by officers
She had shot to world attention a few weeks earlier when a Russian opposition leader published an investigation based on her social media posts that suggested corrupt links between Deripaska and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko.
The report featured video from Deripaska’s yacht in 2016, when Vashukevich says she was having an affair with him.
Deripaska is among the Russian tycoons and officials who have been sanctioned in recent years by the United States in connection with Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. His business empire includes aluminum, energy and construction assets.
He also once was a client of Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager for Trump. Manafort was convicted last year in the United States of tax and bank fraud.
A video emerged earlier this week showing how the Belarusian model was bundled into a wheelchair by an all-male team of suspected FSB agents as she arrived in Russia.
She resists the officers as they try to bundle her into a wheelchair. ‘I don’t want to go anywhere,’ she insists.
After failing to get her into the chair, one officer grabbed her legs and another clutched her around the shoulders, before she was carried towards a lift.
Of those detaining her she said in a text message: ‘They speak very rudely!’
She stated: ‘They say we must go with them for a couple of days somewhere!’
Russian news agencies said that four of the seven people deported from Thailand who arrived in Moscow on Thursday were detained, including Vashukevich and Alexander Kirillov, her mentor in the sex training business.
They may face up to six years in prison if convicted on charges of inducement to prostitution.
Vashukevich, who has been in a Thai prison since February last year, was given a suspended sentence on Tuesday and ordered to be deported
The model and sex coach laughed briefly with officers as she is taken outside the courtroom
In the early stages of their detention in Thailand, the sex training group sent a note to the US Embassy via an intermediary seeking help and political asylum.
Vashukevich indicated she would turn over the recordings she claimed to have if the US could help secure her release but she later withdrew the offer, suggesting that she and Mr Deripaska had reached an agreement.
Vashukevich, who has been in a Thai prison since February last year, was given a suspended sentence on Tuesday and ordered to be deported.
The model, also known on social media as Nastya Rybka, earlier claimed to have recordings of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska talking about interference in the 2016 US election, but never released them.
Vashukevich, also known as Nastya Rybka, claims to have evidence of a back-channel between the Kremlin and Trum
Vashukevich, also known as Nastya Rybka, has long claimed to have explosive audio recordings of a Russian oligarch allegedly proving a secret back channel link between Vladimir Putin’s top henchmen and the Trump election campaign.
Vashukevich and ‘seduction guru’ Alexander Kirillov, 39, had been imprisoned in Thailand last year for running a sex workshop for Russian tourists in Pattaya.
They claimed the Kremlin was behind their detention in Thailand to gag their claims about alleged Russian dealings with top Donald Trump associates.
Vashukevich claims she has inside information including some 16 hours of audio tapes from when she was mistress to Putin-friendly billionaire Oleg Deripaska who has been portrayed as a go-between.
The model has claimed to be ‘the only witness and the missing link in the connection between Russia and the US elections’.
Videos emerged of her on a luxury yacht owned by metals tycoon Deripaska along with Russian deputy premier Sergei Prikhodko, a close Putin lieutenant, somewhere off the Norwegian coast in 2016.
Deripaska’s associates include Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign adviser, who had ‘offered private briefings’ to the Russian mogul.
Video shows Vashukevich being bundled into a wheelchair by FSB agents, but when she resists, they pick her up and carry her towards a lift
The model can be heard saying ‘I don’t want to go anywhere’ as she is carried away
Vashukevich has previously accused the Russian government of trying to silence her
Vashukevich claims to have witnessed a number meetings in 2016 and 2017 between Deripaska and at least three unnamed Americans.
After being detained in Thailand she said: ‘They are trying to shut us up, and for a very long time.
‘I am ready to give you those missing details, and confirm them with audio and video regarding connections between our respected MPs and Manafort and Trump and all that hype around the American elections. I know a real lot.’
Deripaska and Prikhodko have denied wrongdoing.
Vashukevich was en route from Bangkok to Minsk, the Belarus capital, when she was detained with others at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow.
Her friend Gregory Kogan said Russian and Belarusian diplomats in Thailand had pledged the group would be safe if they left for Russia or flew via Moscow.
Interfax news agency reported Vashukevich and her associates face charges of inducement into prostitution.
Also arrested alongside Vashukevich (right) is fellow self-styled sex coach Alexander Kirillov (left), also known as Alex Lesley
Vashukevich, 21, and Kirillov were imprisoned in Thailand last year for running a sex workshop for tourists in Pattaya
They face up to six years in prison if convicted.
Vashukevich last year publicly asked the United States to help free her from a Thai detention centre in exchange for information on alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Kirillov’s wife Kristina Sheremetyeva told Russian state media RIA-Novosti that he, Vashukevich and two others – Andrei Zhezhko and Maria Zharkova – had been detained.
‘For how long and for what reason, we don’t know,’ she said.
She said there were no outstanding criminal investigations against them in Russia, yet their passports had been removed.
‘Now they start charging them with something… it would mean only one thing – violent faking of a crime. No other words for it, it is completely illegal’.
Sheremetyeva also claimed that the FBI had grilled Vashukevich and Kirillov – also known as Alex Lesley – while she was in Thailand but she had not given away any information.
‘FBI agents visited them. To say the least, they posed as such. Alex wrote about that, and Nastya wrote about that. This really took place, when they were being held in an immigration prison in Bangkok,’ she said.
She said that the FBI agents demanded that Vashukevich and Kirillov share the passwords of their mobile phones and their phone data content.
Vashukevich claims to have evidence of meetings between Oleg Deripaska (pictured), her former lover, and at least three unknown Americans
Deripaska’s associates include Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign adviser, who has been jailed as part of the FBI investigation into election meddling
Donald Trump has long denied that Russia had any influence over his 2016 presidential campaign, including earlier this week when he flatly denied ‘ever working for Russia’
‘For this information they promised to release them and to help somehow. But (they) did not give anyone anything, and the case has been dragged out for ten months.’
Vashukevich last year told CNN from her Thai detention centre that she feared for her life because of her inside knowledge.
‘They can kill me here or in Russia,’ she said.
Airport police refused to comment on the incident.
Vashukevich said she made the alleged audio tapes including details of sexual shenanigans during her time on board Deripaska’s yacht. These were sent direct to Kirillov.
Later the pair were among ten ‘sex instructors’ raided by police while running a late night course for Russian tourists at a luxury hotel.
Attendees were ‘given certificates in sexual skills after completing the training course’, reported the Bangkok Post.
Some 43 male and female tourists taking part in the session were interrogated and released without charge, according to reports.
A police video shows the session being raided during a lecture.