MOSCOW — A self-described sex expert whose videos highlighted the ties between one of Russia’s richest men and the Kremlin has been jailed in Thailand and is calling for U.S. help, claiming she has information about links between Russia and President Trump.
Deripaska, with whom Vashukevich said she had an affair, used to employ former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. But Vashukevich, better known by the alias Nastya Rybka, provided no evidence Tuesday to back up the claim that she had new information to offer related to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. A post to her Instagram account showed her sitting on the floor of what was described as a Thai jail cell and said she was sick.
“I am the only witness and the missing link in the connection between Russia and the U.S. elections — the long chain of Oleg Deripaska, Prikhodko, Manafort, and Trump,” Vashukevich said in a live Instagram video Tuesday, apparently shot as she was driven in an open-air police van through the Thai resort city of Pattaya. “In exchange for help from U.S. intelligence services and a guarantee of my safety, I am prepared to provide the necessary information to America or to Europe or to the country which can buy me out of Thai prison.”
Vashukevich said in her video that she had already given an interview to U.S. broadcaster NBC. Representatives for Vashukevich and Deripaska did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman declined to comment.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny made Vashukevich famous last month after he broadcast old footage from her Instagram account showing an August 2016 yacht trip with Deripaska and Prikhodko. Navalny used the footage to allege that Deripaska, a metals magnate, had bribed Prikhodko, one of Russia’s most influential government officials, with the luxury getaway accompanied by women from an escort service.
Navalny also speculated that Deripaska and Prikhodko may have served as a link between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign in 2016, although Vashukevich’s videos offered no proof. According to emails described to The Washington Post last year, Manafort — who once worked for Deripaska — directed an associate to offer Deripaska “private briefings” about Trump’s presidential campaign. A Deripaska spokeswoman said he was never offered such briefings.
Prikhodko called Navalny a “political loser” whose investigation combined “the possible and the impossible.” Deripaska said Navalny’s “allegations have nothing to do with reality” and sued Vashukevich for violating his privacy. A court ordered Instagram to remove some of Vashukevich’s posts.
According to her Instagram account, Vashukevich was in Dubai when Navalny’s video came out, and then she traveled to Pattaya in Thailand. On Sunday, according to Russian news reports, Thai police raided a sex seminar for Russian tourists in which Vashukevich was participating. Attendees paid more than $600 each for a five-day course, Russian media said.
A video from a Thai morning news broadcast showed the police operation. Some of those detained were working without a permit, one of the TV hosts said. “Why do they have to use Thailand to teach this course?” he asked.
Russian Embassy consul Vladimir Sosnov told the RIA Novosti Russian state news agency that Vashukevich and several others were detained for being part of an “illegal training session” and that she and her companions would be put on trial and deported. But Vashukevich claimed Tuesday that she was arrested on orders of Russian officials as payback for her video of Deripaska and Prikhodko and that she expected to be sent to Russia, where she would be jailed again.
“Please USA save us from Russia!” said a post in English on her Instagram account. “All this cases are political repressions!”
Coincidentally or not, one of Russia’s most important security and intelligence officials was also in Thailand on Tuesday. Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, former head of the Federal Security Service, held talks in Bangkok on the security of Russian tourists, RIA Novosti reported.
Alisa Tang contributed to this report.