From Thai Jail, Sex Coaches Say They Want to Trade U.S.-Russia Secrets for Safety
The Story that will not go away, could this be a real threat to TRUMP?
PATTAYA, Thailand — A pair of self-described sex instructors from Belarus have been stuck in a Thai detention center for weeks. They say that they have evidence demonstrating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign in the United States, and that they have offered it to the F.B.I. in exchange for a guarantee of their safety.
Their claim — that they are targets of a covert Russian operation to silence them because they know too much — might seem outlandish, but their case certainly includes some unusual circumstances.
They have influential enemies in Russia. They were arrested with the help of a “foreign spy,” according to the Thai police, and locked up on what is a fairly minor offense: working without a permit. And the F.B.I. tried to talk to the pair, suggesting that American investigators had not dismissed their account out of hand.
“They know we have more information,” one of the pair, Alexander Kirillov, 38, told The New York Times last month in an unauthorized phone call from the detention center, in Bangkok. Mr. Kirillov said his co-defendant, Anastasia Vashukevich, 27, had angered some powerful people. “They know she knows a lot,” he said. “And that’s why they made this case against us.”
Ms. Vashukevich certainly knows how to get attention. In February, a top critic of Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, released a video that included footage she recorded during a brief affair she had with a Russian aluminum tycoon while working as an escort aboard his yacht in 2016. The evidence included photos she posted of the tycoon and his guest, Sergei E. Prikhodko, a deputy prime minister, and a recording of them talking about relations between the United States and Russia.
The aluminum tycoon, Oleg V. Deripaska, has close ties with Mr. Putin and with Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, who has been indicted on money laundering charges by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel looking into election interference.
The escort and her seduction coach have been held largely incommunicado since March 5, when reporters for The Times and other news media outlets were kicked out of the detention center for speaking to them. They now face deportation and fear what might happen to them if they are sent home to Russia, where they live, or Belarus, the former Soviet republic where they grew up, which remains firmly within Russia’s influence. (Mr. Kirillov was traveling on a Russian passport.)
Neither of them is accustomed to silence. They and their circle of friends say they make a habit of recording everything they do as they go about their campaign of teaching seduction techniques and trying their skills on strangers, sometimes in public.