Russia could take down YouTube after an investigative video made by an opposition activist, Alexei Navalny, threatened to unravel the alleged connections between the Trump campaign and Kremlin officials in helping the real estate mogul win U.S. presidential elections, according to Mother Jones.
Navalny has been at the forefront of uncovering political corruption in Russia and has faced threats for his work in his home country. Last week, he released a 25-minute video which attempted to draw connections between members of the Trump campaign, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, and Russia’s top foreign policy official and its deputy prime minister, Sergey Prikhodko. However, as Navalny explains at the very beginning of the video, that was not his primary motive. His team of journalists “accidentally” chanced upon the revelations that could now help investigators in the United States.
It all started when Navalny’s office was attacked by a group of glamour models last year, led by Nastya Rybka, a sex industry escort who is also a reality personality in Russia. According to Navalny, Rybka and her cohort of women can often be seen inciting people, organizing bizarre protests such as this one in which they paraded naked on the streets in support of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
But while all of this is strange, it is still not illegal. What really caught Navalny’s attention is the fact that Rybka often boasts about her sexual relationship with a Russian oligarch in her book A Diary About Seducing a Billionaire. Mining through her book and Instagram feed, the opposition activist is easily able to find pictures where Deripaska — the Russian oligarch — is seen vacationing with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Prikhodko, Rybka herself, and several other escorts.
Through a cross-checking of dates, Navalny concludes that Prikhodko’s vacation in Norway was a “bribe” offered by Deripaska. Rybka herself confesses in her book that the yacht trip was about matters extremely important to Russia. In a nutshell, Navalny concludes, it was a secret meeting where they discussed matters that could not be done in more accessible locations.
"Nastya Rybka wrote a book about the experience, titled “A Diary About Seducing a Billionaire.”
— Julie Mother of Exiles Laumann ???? (@Otpor17) February 9, 2018
Last September, after special counsel Robert Mueller indicted former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, several reports showed that the American lobbyist had given Deripaska multiple briefs about Russian sanctions and the progress of the Trump campaign. At the time, Deripaska had pledged innocence claiming that he had held no official position within the Kremlin, and as a result, did not have access to the Russian government. However, as Navalny shows, not only did Deripaska have direct contact to the deputy Russian PM, but he had also offered him “bribes.”
The investigative video can be seen in its entirety above. (Note: Don’t forget to switch on English captions.)
The sting that the Navalny video has created in Russia can be gauged by the mere fact that Deripaska is insistent on getting it removed. A day after the video was uploaded online, Deripaska won a court injunction requiring it to be taken down. But many Russian internet providers don’t possess the technical ability to selectively block particular URLs, and as a result, Russia might have to take down YouTube completely if Navalny doesn’t take it down himself.
When asked if he would do so, the activist had a simple message.
“There’s one way to respond—spreading [the video],” he said.