An August 2016 Instagram video has possibly drawn a new set of players into the investigations of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Now deleted, the video was posted on the account of a Belorussian model named Nastya Rybka and showed Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska standing on his yacht off the coast of Norway, speaking to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko.
The alleged link to the Trump campaign
The video contained a brief snatch of conversation between the two men about the then Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the US State Department, Victoria Nuland. According to a video from political activist Alexei Navalny, Deripaska was sharing information from a sensational new channel of access he had acquired in Washington – Donald Trumps’s Presidential campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Manifort, who is now working with Special Counsel Mueller, is believed to owe Deripaska millions of dollars from a bad investment in a Ukrainian company made on Deripaska’s behalf. According to the Atlantic, Manifort took the unpaid campaign position in a desperate bid to repair his relationship with the oligarch – he could not repay the millions he owed, but he could offer unique access from inside the Trump organization.
In his controversial video, Navalny calls the yacht ride off the coast of Norway (and the models on board, including Nastya Rybka) a bribe for the deputy prime minister. But he also speculates that the conversation between Deripaska and Prikhodko contained information from Manafort and shows the flow of communication between the Trump campaign and the Russian state. If this proved to be true it would be the smoking gun Robert Mueller is looking for.
Nastya Rybka’s “kiss” and tell
Nastya Rybka is a frequent social media user and shameless self-promoter – something that oligarchs might want to note before hiring her to accompany them on any upcoming yacht trips.
Not only does she post Instagram posts of her employers’ private conversations, but she has also authored a diary of her experiences with oligarchs, entitled, Дневник ио Соблазнению Миллиардера (Diary of the Seduction of a Billionaire) and even has it for sale on Amazon.
Oleg Deripaska has been less than pleased with the sensation caused by Rybka’s Instagram video. Two days after Navalny’s YouTube video first appeared, he won an injunction in a Russian court. The court ruled the videos and photos to be a violation of Deripaska’s privacy and ordered them removed from all websites.
Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor has successfully pressured Facebook to do this, but so far YouTube has left Nevalny’s video in place. Nastya Rybka appears to have voluntarily removed the posts that included Deripaska. Instead she is now putting up posts speculating about who she would like to be in a porn film with. The speculation is driving interest – four different spellings of Rybka’s name are now trending on the Russian version of Pornhub.
Will Mueller be investigating?
Nevalny’s speculation about Rybka’s video is just that – speculation. We do know that Paul Manafort was trying to win favor with Deripaska with promises of inside information from the Trump campaign, but there is no proof that Deripaska-Manafort relationship was a working link between the campaign and the Russian authorities.
But if Mueller wanted to, he might find it very easy to arrange an interview with Nastya Rybka. Becoming a central figure in the Special Counsel’s probe would make her even more famous than she is now – and that may be something she cannot resist!