Nastya Rybka, who said she had evidence of
Russian collusion with Donald Trump’s election campaign, has been detained by
The 27-year-old Belarusian model, real name Anastasia Vashukevich, was
arrested at Moscow’s main airport after being deported from Thailand for
Her lawyer posted a video on Instagram which, he says, shows her arrest.
The video shows a woman resembling Nastya Rybka and looking sedated
struggles as four men push her into a wheelchair, then carry her.
The video clip posted by lawyer Dmitry Zatsarinsky has now been tweeted by
Russian broadcasters and anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny.
Dmitry Zatsarinsky said the model had planned to get a connecting flight to
Minsk, the Belarusian capital, but had been seized and dragged from the transit
zone on to Russian territory, then whisked away to a police station.
The lawyer called the Russian action “an international scandal”.
A Russian interior ministry statement, quoted by local media, says Nastya Rybka
and three others detained with her at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport are accused
of “luring into prostitution and practicing it”. The crime can be
punished with up to six years’ jail.
Among the four held is Belarusian Alexander Kirillov, who was in custody
with Nastya Rybka in Thailand.
They spent nine months in custody
before a Thai court handed them a suspended 18-month sentence for soliciting.
Thailand deported them on January 17, taking account of their time spent in
They and five others – both
Belarusians and Russians – pleaded guilty, after which they were deported.
While in custody, Nastya Rybka and Alexander
Kirillov sought help from the US embassy, fearing extradition to Russia.
Nastya Rybka said she had evidence
of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election campaign,
allegedly obtained through an acquaintance with Russian billionaire
industrialist Oleg Deripaska.
Oleg Deripaska denied the allegations
and successfully sued both Nastya Rybka and Alexander Kirillov.
The billionaire is on the list of
Russian oligarchs and politicians subject to US sanctions for alleged
“malign activities” around the world.
FBI director James Comey and NSA chief Admiral Mike Rogers are set to testify before Congress about possible links between Russia and President Donald Trump’s election campaign.
The two intelligence chiefs will also address Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that he was wiretapped by President Barack Obama.
James Comey and Mike Rogers will give evidence at a rare open hearing of the congressional intelligence committee.
President Trump has called the investigation a “total witch hunt”.
Russia denies attempting to influence the US presidential election.
Two months ago, US intelligence agencies said Kremlin-backed hackers had broken into the email accounts of senior Democrats and released embarrassing ones in order to help Donald Trump defeat rival Hillary Clinton.
However, Adam Schiff said the material he had seen offers circumstantial evidence that US citizens collaborated with Russians to influence the vote.
He said: “There was circumstantial evidence of collusion; there is direct evidence, I think, of deception.
“There’s certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation.”
Two senior officials in the Trump administration have been caught up in the allegations – former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and Attorney-General Jeff Sessions.
Michael Flynn was fired last month after he misled the White House about his conversations with the Russian ambassador before he was appointed national security adviser.
He allegedly discussed US sanctions with Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. It is illegal for private citizens to conduct US diplomacy.
Meanwhile, Jeff Sessions was accused by Democrats of lying under oath during his confirmation hearing in January.
Jeff Sessions said he had “no communications with the Russians”, but it later emerged that he had met Sergei Kislyak during the campaign.
He denied any wrongdoing, but removed himself from an FBI inquiry into Russia’s alleged interference in the election.
March 20 hearing is also expected to address Donald Trump’s claims that the Obama administration wiretapped his phone at Trump Tower in New York during the campaign.
President Trump has provided no evidence, and senior Republican and Democratic officials have dismissed the idea. Barack Obama’s spokesman dismissed the claims.
Devin Nunes told Fox News on March 19 that a review of justice department documents provided on March 17 indicated there was no such wiretap.
Several Republicans have said President Trump should apologize if he cannot substantiate his claims.
Observers say both allegations have diverted attention from the Trump administration’s other policies and progress with political appointments.
Critics say Donald Trump’s claim that Barack Obama wiretapped him has damaged the US credibility, and relations with its allies.
Last week, President Trump’s spokesman Sean Spicer repeated claims by a Fox News analyst that the UK’s GCHQ spy agency had helped Barack Obama wiretap Donald Trump.
The claims angered the UK government, and GCHQ rejected the allegations as “utterly ridiculous”.
Meanwhile, President Trump and some Republicans have called for an investigation into intelligence leaks, including the leak that revealed details of Michael Flynn’s phone calls to the Russian ambassador.