Model claiming to know 'a lot' on Trump, Russia due in Thai court
Pattaya, Thailand - A Belarusian model detained in Thailand who claims to have revelations about alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US election was due in court Tuesday, in a case that grabbed widespread attention after her cryptic offers.
Anastasia Vashukevich, known by her pen name Nastya Rybka, was arrested with nine other foreigners in February when Thai police raided their sex training course in the seaside city of Pattaya.
She and six others were initially charged with lacking a work permit but are now facing additional charges of soliciting prostitution and criminal association, according to Apichai Krobpetch, Pattaya's police chief.
Vashukevich, who is embroiled in a political scandal in Russia, made international headlines after she offered to reveal secrets to American journalists in a video posted on Instagram shortly after her arrest in Pattaya.
"They are trying to put us behind bars... That is why I am ready to tell you about all those missing puzzle pieces that you lacked... regarding a link between our esteemed lawmakers and (Paul) Manafort, Trump and all this brouhaha, the US elections," she said in the video.
The model, who has written a book about seducing oligarchs, has not substantiated her claims but does have links to Russia's elite.
She is facing a lawsuit in Russia over footage she filmed purporting to show an influential deputy prime minister, Sergei Prikhodko, enjoying lavish hospitality on a yacht owned by billionaire Oleg Deripaska.
The video went viral after it was published by top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in February.
Deripaska, one of several Russian oligarchs sanctioned by the US this month, denied any wrongdoing and later sued Vashukevich and Alexander Kirillov, a "sex guru" who was also detained in Thailand, for invasion of privacy.
Deripaska, an aluminium tycoon, was once an associate of US President Donald Trump's ex-campaign manager Paul Manafort.
Manafort has been indicted on money laundering and tax-related charges as part of the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election.
A participant in the sex training session who was not among those arrested told AFP that Vashukevich fears being deported back to Russia.
Three other participants have either been deported or are awaiting deportation, an immigration official told AFP.
The US Embassy in Bangkok has declined to comment on the case.//AFP