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Thailand Detains Woman At Center Of Navalny's 'Rybkagate' Report

A video grab from the Navalny video about billionaire Oleg Deripaska and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko

Police in Thailand have detained a Russian woman who was at the center of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's recent report about an alleged meeting between a billionaire metals tycoon and a longtime former senior adviser to President Vladimir Putin.

Media reports in Thailand said on February 26 that a total of 10 Russian nationals who claimed to be sex experts running a course on lovemaking were detained on February 25 in a hotel in the resort of Pattaya.

Police were quoted as saying that one of the detained Russians was charged with overstaying in Thailand, three with unlawful entry into the kingdom, and the rest with working without permits.

In a video report placed on YouTube, a Belarusian-born woman who goes by the name Nastya Rybka was seen among the detained Russians.

Navalny's Anticorruption Foundation has published several reports alleging corruption among associates of Putin, including one this month that documented what it said was a meeting on a yacht between tycoon Oleg Deripaska and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko, a former senior Kremlin adviser.

Rybka's videos and photos taken from her Facebook account were used in the report, which was released ahead of a March 18 presidential election.

The chief of the consulate department at the Russian Embassy in Thailand, Vladimir Sosnov, confirmed to the RIA Novosti news agency that Rybka was among the detained Russians. He said they will face trials in Thailand and be deported to Russia.

Putin, who has been president or prime minister since 1999, appears certain to win a new six-year term in March.

Navalny, a vocal foe of Putin who has organized large street protests on several occasions, has been barred from the presidential race due to a conviction on financial-crimes charges he contends were fabricated by the Kremlin to sideline him.

Based on reporting by The Nation, RIA Novosti, Meduza, and Dozhd