Wednesday 20 February 2019

Sex trainer 'with evidence on Trump' deported by Thailand

Leaving: Model Anastasia Vashukevich outside the Thai immigration department in Bangkok. Photo: Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP/Getty
Leaving: Model Anastasia Vashukevich outside the Thai immigration department in Bangkok. Photo: Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP/Getty

Kaweewit Kaewjinda

A Belarusian model, who claimed last year that she had evidence of Russian involvement in helping to elect Donald Trump as US president, has been deported from Thailand, police said.

Anastasia Vashukevich, along with seven co-defendants, pleaded guilty this week in a case related to holding a sex training seminar in Thailand.

They were arrested almost a year ago in the seaside resort town of Pattaya, which is especially popular with Russian tourists.

Thailand's immigration police chief Surachate Hakparn said flights had left Thailand heading for Russia and Belarus. Ms Vashukevich and at least one of the other deportees hold passports from Belarus.

While in custody, Ms Vashukevich claimed to have recordings of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska talking about interference in the 2016 US election, but never released them.

Mr Deripaska is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and also had a working relationship with Paul Manafort, Mr Trump's former campaign manager who was investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller and convicted last year of tax and bank fraud.

Ms Vashukevich - also known on social media as Nastya Rybka - and her co-defendants were convicted of soliciting and conspiracy and given suspended 18-month prison terms. The group had said that they were conducting a class on sexual relationships.

In the early stages of their detention, the sex training group sent a note to the US embassy via an intermediary seeking help and political asylum. Ms 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 that she and Mr Deripaska had reached an agreement.

A public scandal erupted in early February last year when Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny published an investigation drawing on Ms Vashukevich's social media posts suggesting corrupt links between Mr Deripaska and a top Kremlin official, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko.

The investigative report featured video from Mr Deripaska's yacht in 2016, when Ms Vashukevich, who has also worked as an escort, was aboard.

On Wednesday in Washington, the US Senate narrowly upheld a Treasury Department decision to lift sanctions from three companies connected to Mr Deripaska. The sanctions hit Limerick refinery Aughinish Alumina because they were imposed on its parent company - Russian business Rusal, which has links to Mr Deripaska.

The Treasury Department said the Russian companies have committed to separating from Mr Deripaska, who will remain blacklisted. He was one of 24 Russian officials and tycoons hit with sanctions imposed by the US last year as Washington stepped up its condemnation of Russia's actions in recent years, including its 2014 annexation of Crimea, support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, hacking attacks and meddling in Western elections.

The metals tycoon controls a business empire with assets in aluminium, energy and construction and is worth $5.3bn (€4.6bn), according to 'Forbes' magazine.

Irish Independent

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