In March, a self-described “sex huntress” offered to trade hours of audio recordings detailing Russia’s role in the 2016 election to U.S. officials in exchange for asylum. Now she tells VICE News she’ll only turn them over to one man: Oleg Deripaska, the Russian oligarch who she says is featured in the tapes.
A day before she appeared in court in Thailand Thursday on charges related to allegedly organizing an illegal “secret society” dedicated to sexual gratification, Anastasia Vashukevich, 28, sent comments exclusively to VICE News from jail. The comments were relayed through an intermediary, Christina Sheremeteva, the wife of Vashukevich’s co-defendant and mentor, Alex Kirillov.
Vashukevich has claimed numerous times that she used her phone to record hours of audio during her encounters with Deripaska, with whom she’s said she had a romantic relationship. The tapes, she’s claimed, capture discussions between the billionaire and other unnamed persons discussing Russia’s role in the U.S. election.
But her latest comments indicate Vashukevich has changed her mind about a previous offer made shortly after her arrest in February to trade those recordings to U.S. authorities in exchange for political asylum.
“I will give the tapes only to Oleg Deripaska,” she told VICE News through her intermediary. “I’m not going to blackmail anyone, and I wasn’t planning to.”
FBI investigators have tried to speak with Vashukevich, but were rebuffed by Thai authorities earlier this year, a person familiar with the situation told VICE News.
Both Vashukevich and Kirillov planned to plead not guilty and fight all charges in court, Sheremeteva said Wednesday.
Vashukevich, a Belarusian citizen who goes by the name Nastya Rybka, claims she was Deripaska’s mistress over a series of encounters in Russia, Switzerland, and Norway starting in 2016. She’s posted pictures on her Instagram account that appear to show the two of them together on a yacht.
Her antics on social media became the raw material for an investigative documentary by underground Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who suggested, without providing any proof, that Deripaska may have joined in a high-level discussion about Moscow’s role in the U.S. election in August 2016.
Earlier this month, Deripaska won moral damages of about $8,000 each from Vashukevich and Kirillov in a suit filed in Russia, after a court ruled they had posted material about his private life on the internet without his consent.
Sheremeteva said Vashukevich has simply decided that Deripaska’s “confidential and personal information” shouldn’t be shared with anyone else.
“Everything I have, in terms of recordings, I will give to Oleg — and only to Oleg,” Vashukevich told VICE News. “And my price will be a date, and a bouquet of flowers.”
The oligarch and the secret tapes
Vashukevich stepped into the spotlight in February after Navalny’s documentary hit the web. The film uses Vashukevich’s social media posts to investigate an alleged secret rendezvous between Deripaska and a top Russian government official at the height of the American presidential campaign.
The movie centers on a meeting between Deripaska and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko during an apparent pleasure cruise off the coast of Norway in August 2016. In one audio snippet, highlighted in the film, the men seem to be discussing U.S.-Russian relations. But the film doesn’t portray them saying anything specifically about Russia meddling in the vote.
Vashukevich has since told reporters that she was a key eyewitness to conversations about Russia’s involvement in the U.S. 2016 elections, and has pointed to her alleged relationship with Deripaska as evidence of these claims.
Deripaska has denied any wrongdoing, saying that the “false allegations” are “the result of a planned campaign aimed to damage my reputation.” He offered a similar denial regarding his alleged relationship with Vashukevich: "There have been endless fictitious stories told by her,” a representative for Deripaska told CNN earlier this year.
His spokesperson did not be immediately respond to a request for comment.
Yet Deripaska’s no stranger to the U.S. elections controversy. He was sanctioned earlier this year by the U.S. Treasury Department, which took aim at Russia for its aggressive foreign policy, including attempts to subvert Western democracies. Treasury pointedly noted in a statement that “Deripaska has said that he does not separate himself from the Russian state.”
Congressional investigators looking at Russia’s role in the 2016 election are probing Deripaska’s relationship with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, two people familiar with the investigation told VICE News in late March.
Deripaska has repeatedly said he had no communications with Manafort “during, after, or in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.” Deripaska has called the claim that he may have been a back channel from the Kremlin to the Trump campaign “fake news.”
Since 2008, Deripaska has repeatedly been denied an American visa, but he continued to travel to the U.S. on a diplomatic passport, including after 2015, according to corporate filings reviewed by VICE News.
MEANWHILE IN JAIL
Vashukevich was arrested in February in the Thai beach town of Pattaya, south of Bangkok, after the release of the documentary. She was assisting with a seminar on seduction alongside her mentor, Kirillov, an author and lifestyle coach who goes by the name of Alex Lesley, according to people who told VICE News they were with her in Thailand at the time of the arrest.
Thai officials quickly cut off access to her and seven others, after her claims stirred international attention. Since then, only family members and legal representatives have been granted access. Few new details have emerged in public about her situation or her case in recent months.
But three people who claim to know her personally, including a woman jailed with her before being released, told VICE News Vashukevich has been threatened by unidentified people while inside prison who demand she disavow the validity of the tapes. Those unnamed people have warned she could be sent to a harsher prison if she doesn’t play along.
But Vashukevich has never said the tapes are fakes, her friends told VICE News.
Kirillov’s seduction philosophy endorses both maximum transparency and constant self-taping — in order to examine interpersonal exchanges later and reflect on them, according to Gregory Kogan, Kirillov’s friend and associate. VICE News spoke to numerous members of Kirillov’s group who said that recording interactions is their common practice.
Sheremeteva, who says she is Kirillov’s wife, couldn't identify who was making those threats. But she said that neither American nor Russian government authorities are known to have spoken to either inside prison.
“I haven’t spoken to the FBI,” Vashukewich said, in comments passed on to VICE News by Sheremeteva. “I haven’t spoken to anyone from the American or from the Russian government.”
Asked whether he’d been in touch with U.S. authorities, according to Sheremeteva, Kirillov laughed.
“Yes, President Trump himself came to see me. And the King of England,” Kirillov said. “That’s a joke.”