MOSCOW — A self-described sex trainer from Belarus who became an unlikely player in an investigation of Russian interference in the U.S. presidential campaign was released from a Moscow jail on Tuesday, a defense lawyer involved in the case said.
Anastasia Vashukevich, also known as Nastya Rybka, and her partner, Alexander Kirillov, still face possible prostitution charges stemming from a “sex-training seminar” they held in Thailand last year, Kirillov’s lawyer Svetlana Sidorkina said in a phone interview.
The two had spent nine months behind bars in Thailand after a police raid on their seminar and were deported last week after they pleaded guilty. Russian authorities detained them after they landed in Moscow, alleging that they also violated Russian prostitution law.
Vashukevich, who also worked as an escort, made headlines last year after video footage she posted to social media surfaced showing her on a yacht with Russian metals magnate Oleg Deripaska and a then-deputy prime minister. After her arrest in Thailand, she pleaded for U.S. help and said she had recordings documenting links between Deripaska and Donald Trump’s campaign.
The claim was notable because Deripaska used to work with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. But no recordings related to the campaign — or proof that they exist — have surfaced.
Vashukevich apologized to Deripaska in comments to journalists in court on Saturday and indicated that she planned to stay silent.
“There will be no more tapes or records about Oleg Deripaska,” she said. “I will stop compromising him, so he can relax.”
On Tuesday, police were expected to seek an extension of Vashukevich’s and Kirillov’s detention as the Russian authorities’ investigation continued. But instead, police told the court that the two could be released during the investigation.
“The investigators changed their decision,” Sidorkina said. But Vashukevich and Kirillov remain suspects, she added, and could be charged at any time. Although Vashukevich is a citizen of Belarus, Sidorkina said she intended to stay in Russia while she was required to be in the country.
Sidorkina declined to comment on whether Vashukevich’s apology to Deripaska might have affected the police decision. Deripaska has not commented on developments in the case, although he has denied any wrongdoing and won an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against Vashukevich last year.
The pair’s release came after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko appeared to get involved. His spokeswoman told the Belarusian edition of the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper that he had ordered his diplomats to “immediately start working for the release of the Belarusian citizen.” A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Monday, Deripaska posted on Instagram that he had gone “to fish” in Lake Baikal rather than attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. This appeared to be a pun. “Rybka” means “little fish” in Russian.