By Robert A. Vella
Anastasia Vashukevich, the Belarusian model who made international headlines by claiming she had tapes of prominent Russians discussing interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, has been temporarily released from a Russian jail. Officials in Thailand, where Vashukevich had been imprisoned on sex-related charges, deported her back to Belarus last week – by putting her on an Aeroflot flight to Moscow – under “assurances” from the Russian government that she would be given free passage to her native country. She was not given free passage, however, and was physically arrested upon her arrival in Moscow.
Video has since emerged showing Vashukevich groveling before Russian officials promising never again to mention the names of the two Russians identified in her prior tape evidence claim and apologizing profusely to these individuals. Before being deported, she had expressed fear for her life if Russia ever got its hands on her. Such fears were and still are completely understandable and justifiable.
The two Russians in question, billionaire oligarch Oleg Deripaska and former Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko, were seen speaking together aboard a yacht in August 2016 which was videoed by Vashukevich who was serving as an escort. Deripaska is a close ally of Vladimir Putin, had numerous contacts with former Trump campaign manager and now convicted felon Paul Manafort, played an active role in Vashukevich’s arrest, and is on the verge of being handsomely rewarded by the Trump Administration’s plan to lift economic sanctions on his business entities including the aluminum giant Rusal. See:
For an excellent recap of her story to date, watch this 19-minute segment from yesterday’s edition of The Rachel Maddow Show:
Model with 2016 secret fights to escape Russia, Deripaska’s reach – Rachel Maddow revisits the story of Belarusian model Anastasia Vashukevich, whose apparently accidental exposure of oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election has been met with legal pressure and personal peril as questions linger about the existence of further evidence.
What will eventually happen to this young Belarusian model is anyone’s guess, but I suspect she will quietly disappear. Even if her tape evidence claim is true, it is highly unlikely the recordings would ever see the light of day. Her pleas to America for help went unheard. No one, not Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the FBI, the CIA, nor anyone else including the Democratic Party, offered any assistance whatsoever. If there was even a remote chance that her claim was legitimate, you would think that someone in America would’ve checked it out besides the single New York Times reporter who tried.
For free peoples everywhere, let this be a warning about the dangers posed by rising authoritarianism.
In other news:
President Donald Trump’s legal team reached out to special counsel Robert Mueller’s office Friday morning after BuzzFeed published an explosive report suggesting Trump directed his former attorney, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress about a Trump Tower project in Moscow, Rudy Giuliani told CNN.
Giuliani, who is Trump’s attorney, would not provide further details about what they said to Mueller’s office.
[Peter] Carr [Special Counsel spokesman] declined to comment to CNN about any communication from the Trump legal team. [clarification by The Secular Jurist]
While Trump’s relationship with much of his base remains strong, two years after his inauguration his ties are fraying with voters like Daudert, the kind who voted in droves for Trump in key pockets throughout the industrial Midwest, flipping previously Democratic states to him in 2016. The shutdown fight, as it has played out over the past month, is further eroding the president’s support among voters who like the idea of beefing up border security — but not enough to close the government.
Many here, even those who still support Trump, say they hold him most responsible. They recite his comment from the Oval Office that he would be “proud to shut down the government.” When he said it, they listened.
WASHINGTON, Jan 22 (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday let President Donald Trump enforce his policy barring certain transgender people from joining or staying in the military as the justices put on hold lower court rulings blocking the plan on constitutional grounds.
The conservative-majority granted the Trump administration’s request to lift injunctions issued by federal judges against the policy while a legal challenge continues in lower courts.