BANGKOK — Police in Thailand have filed new charges against a self-described Russian sex guru and a woman who claims to have evidence of Russian ties to President Donald Trump's election campaign.
The woman, Anastasia Vashukevich, also known as Nastya Rybka, has attracted widespread attention for claiming to have recordings of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a crony of President Vladimir Putin, discussing interference in the U.S. election. She is being held in an immigration detention center and has said she fears for her life and pleaded not to be expelled to Russia.
Col. Apichai Krobpetch, a police superintendent in Pattaya, where the two were arrested with eight others for working illegally by holding a sex training course, confirmed Wednesday that additional arrest warrants had been issued for soliciting, with a maximum prison term of 10 years, and conspiracy, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years.
The original charge on which all 10 were held was working without a permit, punishable by up to 10 years' imprisonment. Three of the 10 have already received a suspended jail sentence of six months and been ordered to leave the country. The others will have to appear in court on April 17 to hear the new charges.
The group was arrested on Feb. 25 in a hotel meeting room in Pattaya, a seaside resort city noted for its sex industry and popularity with Russian visitors. The lessons were attended by about 40 Russian tourists, many wearing T-shirts saying "Sex animator" in English with an arrow pointing to the wearer's crotch. The course was led by Alexander Kirillov, also known as Alex Lesley, who was Vashukevich's mentor.
Vashukevich, who carries a passport from Belarus, became the center of a public scandal in early February when Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny published an investigation drawing on her social media posts suggesting corrupt links between billionaire Deripaska and a top Kremlin official, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko. The report featured video from Deripaska's yacht in 2016, when Vashukevich claims she was having an affair with him and allegedly recorded him talking about Russian interference in U.S. politics.
Deripaska has been linked to Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign manager has been indicted on money laundering charges in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
Deripaska is one of 24 Russian officials and tycoons faced with new sanctions imposed by the United States last month as Washington stepped up its condemnation of Russia's actions in recent years, including its 2014 annexation of Crimea, support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, hacking attacks and meddling in Western elections. The metals tycoon controls a business empire with assets in aluminum, energy and construction and is worth $5.3 billion, according to Forbes magazine.