Just as “Red Sparrow,” a movie about Russian femme fatale spies, hits the big screen, along comes Nastya “Little Fish” Rybka, claiming to have a real life story to tell about Russian intrigue involving the Kremlin and… you guessed it, Donald Trump.
They say life often imitates art, or sometimes it’s the other way around, but Rybka, real name Anastasia Vashukevich, has an undisputed connection to a Russian oligarch, closely tied to Putin — and indirectly to Trump.
The oligarch, billionaire Oleg Deripaska, once employed Paul Manafort, the former Trump 2016 campaign manager who has been swept up in Special Counsel Robert Muller’s Trump-Russia investigation.
While Vashukevich clearly has six-degrees of separation from Manafort and Trump, she was Deripaska’s mistress. Amid the “sweet nothings” he whispered in her ear, she says she also heard all kinds of things about collusion between Trump and Russia during the 2016 election.
If true, Anastasia could provide important information to Special Counsel Mueller.
There’s just one catch. Anastasia is in a bit of a tight spot. She was busted in Thailand, along with nine others, last month for running an illegal “sex training” class at a Pattaya hotel, according to the Bangkok Post newspaper.
The self-described sex-worker has been appealing to U.S. officials and the American media. She’s agreed to tell what she knows about Trump-Russia, if someone will spring her from jail and get her out of the country to prevent being deported to Russia, where she faces an uncertain fate.
“Thai immigration is dancing to the tune of Russia and in fact will simply kill us if Thailand gives us to Russia,” she said in a social media post.
While Vashukevich is not a real “Red Sparrow,” that is, Russian spy–at least not that anyone is willing to admit–her story has the makings of a movie that would rival the Hollywood thriller.
She’s been appealing over social media for help to anyone who will listen.
A video she posted on her Instagram account at least partially backs up her story.
It shows her with Deripaska and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko, reportedly taken on Deripaska’s mult-million dollar yacht in Aug. 2016, during the height of the election campaign.
Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny posted the clip on his anti-corruption foundation website to highlight her connection to Russia’s rich and powerful.
Navalny says the video shows the men discussing Russia’s poor relationship with the United States. Navalny has alleged Deripaska and Prikhodko could be the link between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign, according to CNN.
Anastasia claims she was arrested in Thailand on the orders of the Russian government because of the video.
For his part, Deripaska has called Navalny’s allegations “fake news,” “outrageous” and “false.”
But Vashukevich says she’s willing to put all the pieces together.
“I am the only witness and the missing link in the connection between Russia and the US elections — the long chain of Oleg Deripaska, Prikhodko, Manafort, and Trump,” she said in a video posted online.
“In exchange for help from US intelligence services and a guarantee of my safety, I am prepared to provide the necessary information to America or to Europe or to the country which can buy me out of Thai prison,” she added.
“Please USA save us from Russia!” she wrote on a different post. “All this cases are political repressions!”
“I appeal to all media, journalists who work using my materials to spread all the information and investigate this strange situation.”
While she’s yet to provide any evidence, she says she was the reason Deripaska resigned last week from two Russian companies, a fact confirmed by Russia’s TASS news agency. She’s since threatened to “out” other Putin Oligarchs.
Deripaska once hired Manafort and his partner Rick Gates to provide “private briefings” on the election. But they had a falling out over millions of dollars that Deripaska claims in a lawsuit Manafort used as a “personal piggy bank,” according to The Washington Post.
Manafort and Gates have been indicted on multiple counts of fraud, money laundering and other charges as part of Mueller’s investigation. Gates has already pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the Special Counsel.
Will this Red Sparrow get a chance to sing?