Monday 22 July 2019

Model in US election meddling probe admits 'sex training'

Recordings: Anastasia Vashukevich during an earlier court appearance in Thailand last year
Recordings: Anastasia Vashukevich during an earlier court appearance in Thailand last year

Emile Laurac

A model from Belarus who claimed last year she had evidence of Russian involvement in helping elect US President Donald Trump pleaded guilty yesterday in a Thai court in a case related to holding a sex training seminar.

All the participants were arrested in February last year at a hotel in the seaside resort town of Pattaya, where Anastasia Vashukevich and Russian self-styled sex guru Alexander Kirillov, a co-defendant, were giving a class in sexual relationships. All were fully clothed at the time - at least when police burst in.

The pair were initially sentenced to three-year prison terms, but their sentences were halved because they pleaded guilty, a standard procedure in Thai trials.

The lawyer representing Vashukevich said she and seven co-defendants were given suspended 18-month prison terms and fines of 100,000 baht (€2,750).

The group are expected to be deported later this week.

Vashukevich, also known as Nastya Rybka, last year claimed to have recordings of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska talking about interference in the 2016 US election but did not make them public.

Mr Deripaska is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and had a working relationship with Paul Manafort, Mr Trump's former campaign manager who was convicted late last year on tax and bank fraud charges.

In the early stages of their detention in Thailand, the sex training group sent a note to the US Embassy 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 later withdrew the offer, suggesting she and Mr Deripaska had reached an agreement.

Her earlier revelations of an alleged affair with Mr Deripaska fuelled allegations in Russia of official corruption and enraged the Kremlin.

Irish Independent

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