The Belarusian escort who’s claimed to have audio tapes about Russia’s interference with the U.S. 2016 election has been set free by Russian authorities, her lawyer told VICE News.
Anastasia Vashukevich, the self-styled “sex huntress” who goes by the name “Nastya Rybka,” was released on her own recognizance, her lawyer, Dmitry Zatsarinsky, said by phone from Moscow on Tuesday.
Vashukevich is planning a public press conference in Moscow on Wednesday, the lawyer said, although he declined to describe what she intends to say.
Vashukevich was detained last week at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport along with her mentor in seduction, Alex Kirillov, and two other people on suspicion of involvement in prostitution, according to Gregory Kogan, a friend and associate of both Vashukevich and Kirillov.
Vashukevich was arrested moments after arriving in Moscow from Thailand. She spent the previous year in Thai prison, where she was held while fighting charges related to her role running a class on sexual seduction in the Southeast Asian country. A video appearing to show Russian authorities lifting her off the ground and carrying her away inside the Moscow airport was posted online shortly after word of her detention got out, stoking outrage on social media sites throughout Russia.
Vashukevich’s friends and supporters have said the Thai case was designed to silence her after she sparked an international controversy by flaunting her alleged relationship to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and her supposed knowledge of high-level conversations related to Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections.
Vashukevich rose to prominence after appearing in an online investigative documentary made by Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny. The 25-minute video posted to YouTube purports to shows Deripaska — a billionaire with ties to Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort — taking a three-day pleasure cruise on a yacht off the coast of Norway in August 2016 in the company of Vashukevich and Russian deputy prime minister Sergei Prikhodko.
Vashukevich has described herself as Deripaska’s “mistress,” and claimed to have used her access to make audio recordings that shed light on Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election.
Deripaska has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying that the “false allegations” are “the result of a planned campaign aimed to damage my reputation.” And a representative for the Russian billionaire has dismissed Vashukevich’s claims about their relationship as “fictitious stories.”
Vashukevich’s lawyer said on Tuesday that his client had been released because there was “no basis” for her arrest, but declined to further discuss the details of her case.
FBI investigators tried to speak with Vashukevich during the first half of 2018, only to be rebuffed by Thai authorities, a person familiar with the failed outreach told VICE News last year.
A Facebook page appearing to belong to Vashukevich posted brief, exuberant comments on Tuesday.
“Freedom!!!!!,” someone posted to the page, along with what appeared to be a bathroom selfie of Vashukevich brushing her teeth. “This feeling can’t be described in words,” the person wrote.
Cover: Anastasia Vashukevich, also known on social media as Nastya Rybka, sits in a cage in the court room in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko).