18 Jan 2019 11:03

Belarusian embassy in Moscow looking into situation around detention of Nastya Rybka and Alex Lesley

MOSCOW. Jan 18 (Interfax) - The Belarusian embassy in Moscow is looking into reports about the detention of Belarusian citizens Anastasia Vashukevich (Nastya Rybka) and Alexander Kirillov (Alex Lesley) at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, an embassy spokesperson told Interfax on Friday.

"The embassy is studying this information," the spokesperson said.

Vashukevich and Kirillov, also known as Nastya Rybka and Alex Lesley, were detained in Moscow upon arrival from Thailand where they had been identified as defendants in a criminal case into the illegal "sex training" in Pattaya.

"As part of the criminal proceedings launched over a crime enshrined in Part 2 Article 240 of the Russian Criminal Code, three Russian citizens and a Belarusian female citizen, who arrived by a flight from the Kingdom of Thailand, were detained at Sheremetyevo Airport," the press service of the Moscow branch of the Russian Interior Ministry said.

Part 2 Article 240 of the Russia Criminal Code deals with engaging into prostitution committed by a group of people by previous concert. The crime is punishable by a prison term of up to six years.

Vashukevich and Kirillov gained prominence after reports about the private life of Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska, which were reflected in an investigation conducted by the Anti-Corruption Foundation led by opposition activist Alexei Navalny. In July 2018, after their arrest in Thailand, the Ust-Labinsky District Court in Russia's Krasnodar Territory sided with Deripaska in a lawsuit filed against the two over the posting of material related to Deripaska's private life on social media without his consent. The court ordered each defendant to pay 500,000 rubles in moral damages.

On February 25, 2018, Thai police raided a hotel in Pattaya where a sex class for Russian tourists was going to be held. The participants were questioned and released, while ten organizers, including Vashukevich and Kirillov, were detained.

In mid-January, a court in Thailand gave Vashukevich a suspended prison sentence for organizing a "sex class" for tourists. The Belarusian citizen was sentenced to nine months in prison, which she had already served by the time the investigation was completed. She was not required to pay a $3,100 fine due to the expiration of the statute of limitations.

Severn other defendants, including Kirillov, who calls himself a personal growth coach, received the same sentences.

They were deported from Thailand on January 17.

Vashukevich and Kirillov were released from the Thai prison and arrived in Moscow on Thursday evening with another five people implicated in the case involving an illegal "sex class" in Pattaya.