News World Escort says oligarch has Russia election-meddling tapes

Escort says oligarch has Russia election-meddling tapes

Anastasia Vashukevich arrives at the Pattaya Provincial Court on Monday. She pleaded not guilty to soliciting charges. Photo: AP
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A model and escort from Belarus who caused a sensation by claiming to have information linking Russian interference in the US presidential election says she no longer has the evidence and will not talk about it.

Anastasia Vashukevich, who also uses the name Nastya Rybka, has pleaded not guilty to charges of soliciting and conspiracy to solicit in a court appearance in the Thai resort city of Pattaya to prepare for her trial along with seven co-defendants.

Lawyers will submit legal submissions at another hearing next week at which the court is expected to set a date for testimony to begin.

Vashukevich, Russian self-styled sex guru Alexander Kirillov and six other people were arrested at a sex training seminar in Pattaya in February and have been in custody ever since.

All the defendants, who could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted, pleaded not guilty.

A police officer escorts Vashukevich from a detention centre in February after her arrest. Photo: AP

Vashukevich told The Associated Press she had turned over audio recordings to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, whose conversations about interference before the election of US President Donald Trump she claimed to have taped.

She has said she provided “escort” services to Mr Deripaska, who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and who has links to Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager now being tried in the US on money laundering and other charges.

Speaking to an AP reporter in the courtroom in Pattaya, Vashukevich said she had promised Mr Deripaska she would no longer speak on the matter, and that he had already promised her something in return for not making that evidence public.

Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Photo: Getty

“He promised me a little something already,” Vashukevich said. “If he do that, then there will be no problem, but if he don’t …” she said with a shrug and a smile.

She also shrugged and smiled when asked if she had kept her own copies of the information she recorded, which she said comprised “some audio, some video”.

Asked what the material showed, she said, “You’d have to ask Deripaska.”

Vashukevich created world headlines when she was first detained because she claimed to have audio recordings of Mr Deripaska that provided evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.

She appealed to America for help and for asylum, through a letter to the US Embassy in Bangkok, but provided no proof of her claims.