We recently did a short piece on Anastasia Vashukevich, the Belarusian woman who was in a relationship with Oleg V. Deripaska, the Russian oligarch who was, in turn, a long-term associate of Paul Manafort (see An Honest Whore, A Dishonest President). Currently, she is detained in Thailand and is offering to trade asylum in the USA for recordings of Deripaska and other powerful Russians discussing the ways they have manipulated American elections.
Vashukevich first came to the attention of Western investigators when Aleksei A. Navalny, a Russian opposition figure, released videos of her with Deripaska on his Youtube newsprogram. But, it turns out there’s more to be learned. Last week, Navalny’s program released an extended interview by journalist Kira Yarmysh of Vashukevich and her “trainer,” Alex Lesley.
The two are fantastically open … and maybe fantastically naïve …about their relationship with members of the Russian oligarchy, and what those men wanted from them. And one point, Vashukevich laughingly announces that she was working on a “third” book about her time with Deripaska, but then decided against moving forward after someone told them they’d be killed if they continued.
The question is, of course, why they thought they were immune from reprisal for their openness. Perhaps they thought they knew too much to be eliminated. Or perhaps they really were just naïve.
Whatever, it is clear that things are different now. Both Vashukevich and Lesley are in Thailand and seem to be desperate to get to the West. Let’s hope they make it.
In the meanwhile, watching the video is a fascinating if somewhat difficult. It is in Russian but there are English subtitles. It is informative if only because of what it reveals of life in Putin’s Russia.