Anastasia Vashukevich, better known by her pen name Nastya Rybka, has been detained in Thailand since February when police raided a risque seminar in the seaside resort city of Pattaya.
Vashukevich had travelled to Thailand after becoming embroiled in a political scandal with Russian aluminium tycoon Oleg Deripaska, a onetime associate of Trump’s now-disgraced former campaign director Paul Manafort.
A Belarusian model who sparked global intrigue after claiming she had evidence of Russian efforts to help Donald Trump win office pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of running an illegal “sex training” class in Thailand.
She set off a scramble for details after she promised in an Instagram video to reveal “missing puzzle pieces” on claims the Kremlin aided the US President’s 2016 election victory.
No material has been released to substantiate her claims, and critics have accused her of a publicity stunt.
Vashukevich and her seven co-defendants arrived at the Pattaya court on Monday for a pre-trial hearing on the charges that include unlawful assembly and conspiracy.
Police initially charged the group with work permit violations but later alleged the seminar, led by self-styled Russian seduction guru Alex Kirillov and ostensibly a course training participants to be better lovers, was actually intended to arrange paid sex for participants.
Photos of course participants in detention after the February raid showed them wearing t-shirts that said “sex animator”.
Kirillov, who has served as a spokesperson for the mostly-Russian group because he speaks English, told the court that all eight defendants were pleading not guilty.
“We did not commit any crimes,” he said. “What we do is training on how to seduce men and women. We do not make any sexual activity.”
Vashukevich cried after the prosecutor showed a photo of several of her co-defendants hugging at a nightclub after a training session.
“Why was I arrested? Why am I here?” she said.
The next hearing has been set for August 27.
Pattaya, on Thailand’s southern coast, is a party town with a reputation for vice and a sizeable Russian expatriate community.
Both Washington and Moscow have publically shrugged off Vashukevich’s story, which US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert described as “bizarre”.
Additional legal troubles are also awaiting Vashukevich and Kirillov back in Russia, where Deripaska won an invasion of privacy lawsuit against the duo last month.
They were ordered to pay $8,000 each to Deripaska, who sued them after a video apparently filmed by Vashukevich surfaced which appeared to show the tycoon vacationing with Sergei Prikhodko, an influential Russian deputy prime minister at the time.
Kremlin-connected Deripaska and Manafort did business together in the mid-2000s, The New York Times reported last year, but their relationship broke down into legal wrangling.
Manafort is awaiting a verdict in his own trial on fraud and tax evasion charges in the US state of Virginia.
The real threat to America isn’t Trump’s ‘deep state’ — it’s Trump’s corrupt state: Robert Reich
Trump has been ramping up his “Deep State” rhetoric again. He’s back to blaming a cabal of bureaucrats, FBI and CIA agents, Democrats, and “enemies of the people” in the mainstream media, for conspiring to remove him from office in order to allow the denizens of foreign shi*tholes to overrun America.
But with each passing day it’s becoming clearer that the real threat to America isn’t Trump’s Deep State. It’s Trump’s Corrupt State.
Not since Warren G. Harding’s sordid administration have as many grifters, crooks and cronies occupied high positions in Washington.
Trump flips out over ‘RIGGED’ hearings as Democrats grill Hope Hicks
President Donald Trump ranted on Twitter while his former communications director testified before the House Judiciary Committee.
Hope Hicks complied with a congressional subpoena and testified behind closed doors to the Democrat-led panel, and the president raged online as word leaked out that a White House lawyer was objecting to many of the questions about her government service.
"The Dems are very unhappy with the Mueller Report, so after almost 3 years, they want a Redo, or Do Over. This is extreme Presidential Harassment," Trump tweeted. "They gave Crooked Hillary’s people complete Immunity, yet now they bring back Hope Hicks."
Soledad O’Brien shames the press for calling Trump’s lies about Central Park 5 a ‘controversial stance’
Former CNN host Soledad O'Brien has once again called out media outlets for whitewashing President Donald Trump's blatant lies.
This time, O'Brien took issue with a USA Today headline that mischaracterized Trump's lies about five black men who were falsely accused of raping a woman in New York's Central Park in the 1980s, only to have their convictions vacated in 2002 after DNA evidence exonerated them and another man confessed that he was the man who committed the brutal Central Park rape more than a decade earlier.
Instead of calling out Trump for lying about the case, the paper simply called Trump's continued assertions of their guilt a "controversial stance."