A leaked audio tape allegedly reveals Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and his associates planned the arrest of a Belarusian model who claimed she had proof of President Trump’s campaign colluding with the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential election.
The existence of the tapes was announced on Monday by Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny, saying he came into possession of them a couple of months ago and believes they are authentic.
According to Meduza, an independent Russian outlet based outside Russia, there are three recordings, with two of them discussing Anastasia Vashukevich, a model who made headlines after saying she could prove collusion between Trump and Russia.
Vashukevich was deported from Thailand earlier this month after pleading guilty to the charges of trying to organize sex seminars in the country. On Thursday, Vashukevich was arrested in Moscow, Russia on charges of inducement to prostitution together with three other associates. She was released on Tuesday after the investigator decided to free them without the "obligation to appear" for further proceedings, AFP reported. She will now travel to Minsk, the capital of Belarus.
"The investigation made a decision to free them from jail with the obligation to appear" for further proceedings,
One call from the tapes, according to the outlet, features people named “Tatiana,” “Georgy,” and “William” who reportedly say Vashukevich and her group need to be “locked up.” A man in the recording notes that Thailand doesn’t imprison “sex trainers,” leading to a suggestion by another man saying she could be charged with illegal business activities instead.
Navalny claims that all people in the recording are tied to Deripaska, who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and once worked with Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager.
He said “Tatiana” in the tape is Tatiana Monegen, the secretary general of the Russian branch of International Chamber of Commerce. “Georgy” is likely Georgy Oganov, the former spokesman for Russia’s U.S. embassy, according to Meduza.
Vashukevich last year, through an intermediary, asked the U.S. government to secure her freedom from Thai prison and give her political asylum in exchange for of recordings in which Deripaska is talking about interfering in the U.S. presidential elections.
She later withdrew her proposal, saying she and the Russian oligarch struck a deal.
On Saturday, she promised in a Russian court that she won't be releasing any further recordings concerning the oligarch and ask for his forgiveness.
“There won't be any more audio recordings about Oleg Deripaska,” she told reporters, according to the Telegraph. “I won't compromise him anymore, so he can relax, really, I've had enough."
Her name first came up in political circles last year after Navalny published an investigation stemming from her social media activity. The report alleged links between Deripaska and a top Kremlin official, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko.
The woman reportedly worked as an escort and was captured in a video believed to be shot on Deripaska’s yacht in 2016.
Deripaska, who is worth more than $5 billion, is one of the Russian figures who was the target of U.S. sanctions in response to the Russian government’s actions such as the 2014 annexation of Crimea, support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, and attempting to interfere in elections across the world.