“Nastya Rybka” gained notoriety in February 2018, thanks to an investigative report by Alexey Navalny. After several women staged a bizarre demonstration at its Moscow office, Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation went looking on social media to identify its unwelcome visitors. One of these people turned out to be a 27-year-old Belarusian citizen named Anastasia Vashukevich, also known as Nastya Rybka. In September 2017, the same woman announced a “Navalny hunt,” vowing to honeytrap the anti-corruption activist and post the sex video online. Searching Vashukevich’s Instagram account, Navalny’s researcher also discovered photographs showing her on billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s yacht, together with a man journalists recognized as Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Prikhodko. When the Anti-Corruption Foundation reported this information, reposting the images, Deripaska got a court to order Russian Internet providers to block Navalny’s website.
For more about Prikhodko
In its report, the Anti-Corruption Foundation called Vashukevich a “escort services worker.” Vashukevich described herself as a “sex trainer” and “billionaire hunter.” In 2018, she published a book titled “The Billionaire Seduction Diary, or A Clone for the Oligarch,” where she described her relationship with an unnamed oligarch. After the book was released, Oleg Deripaska filed a lawsuit against Vashukevich and her coauthor, Alexander Kirillov (who goes by the name “Alex Leslie”), arguing that the book disclosed his personal information without his permission.
In late February 2018, police in Thailand arrested both Vashukevich and Kirillov. According to local journalists, the two were running a “sex training” workshop out of a hotel in Pattaya for Russian tourists. Vashukevich, Kirillov, and another eight “sex instructors” were charged initially with illegal work and later with illegal sex work. The group spent nine months in a Thai jail. On January 15, reporters learned that a court had sentenced all 10 individuals to probation and decided to deport everyone back to Russia or Belarus, depending on their citizenship.
On January 17, Vashukevich and Kirillov were deported from Thailand. Police later arrested them at Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport in connection with a prostitution case (an offense punishable by up to six years in prison). According to the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets, officials launched the investigation after two “sex training” graduates came forward and revealed that they had become prostitutes after the program. Sources told The Bell that one of these women was Alexandra Davydova (also known as Sasha Travka), who helped Vashukevich and Kirillov organize the sex-training program (which Vashukevich confirmed in court).
According to the BBC, Vashukevich hoped to fly to Minsk, but she was arrested during her layover in Moscow. Her lawyer said Russian law enforcement dragged her from the airport’s transit zone, which video footage later confirmed. Sources told The Bell that police also raided the homes of Vashukevich’s and Kirillov’s relatives in Moscow.
On January 19, Vashukevich and Kirillov were arraigned at Moscow’s Nagatinsky District Court, where investigators asked the judge to place the two in pretrial detention. The court released two other suspects on their own recognizance. In the courtroom, Vashukevich said she is being framed for a crime she didn’t commit. She also apologized personally to Oleg Deripaska, saying, “Mr. Deripaska, please forgive me. I was just a tool and people used me.” In his statement to the court, Alexander Kirillov blamed Alexey Navalny for the trial, saying the anti-corruption activist “really wants to massacre his enemies.”
In the end, the judge decided to keep Vashukevich and Kirillov in jail for another 72 hours, adjourning the hearing until Tuesday, January 22.
For more about Russia's prostitution case against these “sex trainers”
Translation by Kevin Rothrock