A Belarusian model who claimed to have secret information about Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 election now says she made up those claims in an effort to save her life.
Anastasia Vashukevich was arrested last year in Thailand for holding sex training seminars in the country. She spent nearly a year behind bars until she was deported, and she was arrested in Moscow earlier this month on prostitution charges.
Vashukevich, who is known as Nastya Rybka on social media, claimed to have recordings of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska that would reveal more information about President Trump’s connections to Russia. She claimed to have obtained the recordings during an affair with the Russian billionaire.
Vashukevich is now walking back her declaration, saying she made up the claims to attract media attention to save her life while she was being held in Thailand.
"I think it saved my life, how can I regret it? If journalists had not come at that time and that story had not come to the newspapers, maybe I would die [be dead by] now,” she told CNN.
The backpedaling comes after the model said she instructed by Russian security services to stop talking about Deripaska.
“They explained to me very clear[ly] what should I do, what should I say and what I shouldn't say,” she said. "They said to me, 'Don't touch Oleg Deripaska anymore.'"
Deripaska has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and is a former business associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was convicted last year of tax and bank fraud. Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, has since accused Manafort of violating his plea agreement.
Deripaska has denied having an affair with the model.