There’s not a whole lot that’s simple about the case of Anastasia Vashukevich. In fact, not even her name is a simple matter — if you even know who she is, you might know her by her social media sobriquet, Nastya Rybka.
Vashukevich/Rybka is a Belarusian national who describes herself as a “sex coach,” according to CNN. Authorities have said that’s a “sanitation engineer”-esque way of saying escort or prostitute.
Whatever you want to call her profession, she’s important because she once said that, while she was “sex coaching” with Russian oligarch Olig Deripaska, she managed to record him talking about election interference and Donald Trump.
This claim, to the people who indulge in yarn-and-index-card theorizing about Kremlin collusion and the 2016 presidential race, was yet another sign the Trump campaign was in league with Vladimir Putin and Co.
What they didn’t note was the fact that she made these claims from a Thai jail — and that she had considerable incentive to use them to try to gain her freedom.
Which, in an interview with CNN in Moscow, is exactly what she now says happened.
CNN reported Tuesday that “Vashukevich said she was instructed by Russian security services not to talk about Deripaska, an ex-business associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.”
“I had some talk when I was in Russian jail,” she told the network. “And they explained to me very clear(ly) what should I do, what should I say and what I shouldn’t say.”
Vashukevich said this discussion took place with “Russian agents.”
“They said to me, ‘Don’t touch Oleg Deripaska anymore.'”
This, however, is a preface specifically designed to undermine the very buried lede: Vashukevich said the whole story about the recordings was a way to get out of prison, where she was detained for a year due to soliciting for her coaching talents.
“She told CNN from a Thai detention center last year that she witnessed meetings between Deripaska and at least three unnamed Americans. Now back in Moscow, she says the claims she made to the media were an attempt to get media attention to save her life,” the report read.
“I think it saved my life, how can I regret it?” she said. “If journalists had not come at that time and that story had not come to the newspapers, maybe I would die (be dead by) now.”
Saying she contemplated suicide at the thought of a long sentence, she called her year behind bars in Thailand “hell.”
“It’s like a blockbuster and I’m inside,” she said. “But it’s not a movie, it’s my life.”
The Vince Lombardi of coitus was just freed from police custody last week; she was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport upon her deportation from Thailand because apparently her coaching skills aren’t appreciated by Russian authorities either.
So, what’s the takeaway here? We don’t exactly know the full story on Vashukevich or her alleged affair with Deripaska, which he denies.
However, the media bought into this foul-smelling story when it broke last year and is now trying to keep it going by casting doubt on her story that she doesn’t have tapes, doubt regarding Vashukevich that they probably ought to have exercised in the beginning.
Take her original entreaty to U.S. officials from a Thai prison, as reported by The New York Times in a very lengthy March 2018 piece regarding the allegations:
“If America gives me protection, I will tell everything I know,” Vashukevich said. “I am afraid to go back to Russia.
“Some strange things can happen,” she added, ominously.
How does that not sound exactly like someone who wants to get out of prison and is willing to do almost anything to effect her release?
Vashukevich couldn’t provide any details except that, you know, she had information and was willing to share it with us if we’d just do something to spring her and keep her away from Russia.
Deripaska isn’t a particularly admirable individual, as you might have guessed given that he’s an oligarch with ties to the Kremlin.
Also, “Russian agents” aren’t usually known as defenders of truth, decency and restraint.
This all being said, these circumstances don’t make what a Belarusian prostitute said to get out of a Thai prison any more reliable.
Her claim shouldn’t have been news in the first place — much less the subject of a lengthy piece in The New York Times — and the media oughtn’t now be casting doubt on her claim that she was lying in the first place about that claim.
For liberals and Democrats who want to use her as part of the Russian collusion narrative, they should have realized a long time ago that there’s very likely no there there when it comes to Vashukevich.
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