In May 2021, a business based on the telegram channel BZ grew into a website with profiles of sex workers. This is how Ashoo itself and related telegram channels appeared. Information about new girls on the portal is posted by the Ashoo news and reviews channel. Ashoo Escort channel publishes active profiles of elite prostitutes of the site, its description says: “Premium escort. One-time meetings. Business support with continuation. Non-standard solutions. They are united by the official channel of the project – Ashoo, in which news on the topic, memes, questionnaires and advertising regularly appear. In addition to channels, there is a bot to search for commercial sex.
The Ashoo site is not high in the search results: the third page of Yandex and the seventh – Google. The resource received its development at the expense of Telegram. Ashoo had over 2.2 million visitors in its first year of operation.
Ashoo’s popularity was indirectly helped by the closure of another similar project, Intimcity, which was blocked by the RKN in November 2022. Its owners did not raise the site again, saying that data critical for its further work was lost as a result of a technical failure. “I think they just lost traffic and decided to leave the arena, the site is lousy in terms of usability, they didn’t want to redo it,” the source of Baza from the IT sphere believes.
Before leaving the Intimcity market, Ashoo’s audience was about 750 thousand people a month, in December their number increased to 1 million. 70% of the portal’s visitors are men aged 25-34. According to Google Trends, in the past three months, Ashoo has achieved “superpopularity,” which means that its traffic has increased by 5,000%.
It was the departure of “Intimity” that influenced the interest in Ashoo, according to the statistics of search queries. In July 2021, for example, Ashoo was searched through Yandex by an average of 3.5 thousand people per month. In January 2023 – 60 thousand people. The explosive growth of queries for the word “ashoo” occurred precisely in November-December 2022: from 19 to 60 thousand queries per month.
Blocked, blocked, but never blocked
Roskomnadzor repeatedly blocked the Ashoo website, but this did not affect the work of the escort services search engine. Moreover, at the moment of the ban, the attendance of the aggregator does not even fall. Ashoo’s secret is simple and lies in subdomains, the existence of which for some reason is ignored by the RKN and does not ban, and the telegram bot of the project, which is not afraid of blocking at all.
“Blocks from RKN are a common occurrence that does not slow down the work of our resources at all, and our team copes with the transition to a new subdomain in five to seven minutes,” commented Ashoo team another lockdown on November 11th.
When the RKN blocked Ashoo.com, the administration of the aggregator restarted its site on the .nl domain, putting a stub in advance with instructions to bypass the blocking and automatically redirect all users to a working subdomain. It should be noted that the agency has the ability to block access by closing all subdomains at once, even those that will be created in the future. But in the case of Ashoo, the RKN did not even ban the “ashoo.nl” domain itself.
The difficulties with blocking are connected not only with the RKN and lie in the way the prosecutor’s office draws up a claim. To shut down the “marketplace of prostitution”, the prosecutor’s office only needs to file a lawsuit demanding that access to the Ashoo website and its subdomains be restricted and that it be excluded from search engines. But the requirements of the prosecutor’s office are blurred, and after blocking the site simply moves to another subdomain.
“Baza” sent a request to the RKN, but by the time the publication was published, they had not received a response.
“Base” checked one of the Ashoo servers, which was not hidden, and found an IP address bound to the mail.ashoo.nl domain. Further, through the WHOIS service, we found out the name of the person who owns the server – Aleksey Sinenko – and the address of his connection – Batumi, Pirosmani Street. According to state authorities, Alexei Sinenko was born on March 3, 1991 in St. Petersburg. This information coincides with the one that Suter published about himself.
We found messages in Georgian Telegram channels by Suter dated June 2021. He was interested in cryptocurrency exchange and real estate in Batumi. We also came across a post in Suter Broadcasts that its author had moved from Russia to another country. Then it was announced about the opening of the site Ashoo.
Suter spoke to the media several times and talked about how he opened brothels in St. Petersburg. In one of the first interviews he concealed his real name and age, but said the city where he comes from – St. Petersburg. Over time, Suter became less secretive. Literally a year later, he already openly called his name and age: “My name is Alex, I’m 29 years old, I was born and live in St. Petersburg.”
Suter and Aleksey Sinenko have the same name, age and city of birth. Everything points to the fact that Alexey Sinenko is the founder of Ashoo. Moreover, on VKontakte, on the page of one of the users named Alexei Sinenko, instead of a photo, there is an avatar in the Ashoo graphic style.
According to the phone number that belongs to Alexei Sinenko, we checked it in Getkontakte. For many subscribers, Sinenko is recorded in such a way that his connection with Suter becomes obvious.
“Baza” contacted Suter-Sinenko, and he agreed to talk. When asked if Suter is the owner of Ashoo, he replied: “There are more than three of us, the founders. The rest are people with no experience in this area, moreover, they are not from the CIS countries. Foreign IT specialists.
According to Suter, the other co-owners are acquaintances of acquaintances who worked on other successful projects: “I know how to make a website, what the user needs, what the advertiser needs. But I don’t understand anything about website development. Any business is multifaceted, and nothing will work without a team. It is impossible to say that I am the single inspirer of the project. To say that Ashoo looks the way he looks thanks to me is probably possible.
A whole “cart” of repression
On the night of January 14-15, several telegram news channels, such as Ax Live, Dvach, Ateo Breaking and TGinfo, published a message marked “lightning” about deleting all Ashoo grid channels. Telegram admins also deleted all articles on Telegra.ph, which published reviews of Russian brothels and massage parlors from Ashoo agents, and the telegram bot of the prostitute search project fell under sanctions. In less than a day, all channels of the escort network were restored.
After the unlock, a post briefly appeared on the main Ashoo channel thanking those who quickly responded to what happened and spread the word about the removal of the grid. Baza managed to save it: “Special thanks to everyone for the kind words of support and the administration of Telegram for the quick response. We especially want to note one of the employees of the messenger for taking the time to analyze our situation.” It is not surprising that popular channels stood up for Ashoo – they all often made publications mentioning the sex project, reposts from there, or integrated advertising into related news. Most likely, the mentioned telegram channels did not want to lose a profitable advertiser, or the owners of Ashoo simply paid for the “blocking news”.
The mention of one particular Telegram employee, thanks to which a whole network of channels was unlocked, makes one think about the existence of informal ties between Ashoo or the channels that helped it and the administration of the messenger. The experts interviewed by Baza could not recall a case when such a large mesh was removed and restored in a day. “I think they managed to prove that their content does not violate the rules of the TG, well, or find some other significant arguments. I don’t know if those arguments were money. It is always very difficult to negotiate with TG, which means that they had ways out, ”one of them notes.
The founder of Ashoo himself explained to Base that the deletion of his Telegram channels was a mistake. According to him, the reasons for the blocking are not fully known to him. “We believe that the removal was due to the fact that the scammers used the Ashoo brand for their own purposes (deceived people). Someone complained to Telegram, and the channels, along with the scammers, were deleted. As a result, after the hype in the media, they realized that “Asha” and other channels of the network were deleted in vain. But this is an assumption, nothing more. We do not know the very reason for the removal and restoration, and we are unlikely to ever know, ”Souter said. He added that he wrote to the Telegram administration many times, but his messages remained unanswered. The “messenger employee” mentioned in the thank you post is a tester and administrator of the @tginfo channel, who simply gave Suter the Telegram support contacts.
The Telegram administration massively blocks channels in exceptional cases. In September 2022, the messenger blocked several Russian-language channels associated with Belarus at the request of Apple. Among the deleted ones were the channels of TV presenter Grigory Azarenka, RT journalist Konstantin Prydybaylo, the channel of the Rusich sabotage and assault reconnaissance group and others. “Channel administrators should take such warnings as seriously as possible and try to do everything possible so that the violations committed are not repeated. Otherwise, their channels will inevitably be blocked in the Telegram versions distributed through the App Store and Google Play … ”Pavel Durov, the founder of the messenger, said then.
In February 2021, Telegram removed the largest channel about escorts, Market of Skins. The channel admins claimed that they were exposing, but often they first published compromising evidence, and then took money for its removal. The reason for blocking RSH was the complaint of one girl, about which the post appeared in the channel. Her lawyer turned to Apple and Telegram, stating that such material about his client violates personal data and copyright laws in the United States, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.
“There are dozens or even hundreds of such channels in Telegram. Most of them are based on photos from the “check you” resource. We are talking about activists who lure naked photos from girls, and then blackmail them. If they don’t receive money, the girl’s details, phone number, social media profiles, correspondence with the divorcee, and naked photos and videos are published on “check you”. For a long time, such channels were ignored by the TG administration, but at some point they began to be blocked. This is due to the tightening of the approach in the work of the messenger,” explains Vladimir Zykov, head of the Association of Professional Users of Social Networks and Messengers. However, even today in the “Telegram” you can find dozens of RSH clones.
After several years, Suter shared his experience on the blog and described curious cases from his pimping practice. As a rule, readers were interested in two topics – the personal life of sex workers and whether Suter himself slept with prostitutes from his brothel.
Suter claimsthat 40% of the prostitutes he worked for were in a relationship and often their partners knew what they were doing. In his practice, there were cases when husbands brought meals to their prostitute wives or visited them during breaks. Often, men took their missus home after work. “Very often, girls find love in the brothel itself. It can be a client, a security guard or a driver. I know cases when a courtesan works in an intimate salon, and her husband, a security guard, sits there and watches how clients choose his wife. I know when a driver takes prostitutes, including his wife, to saunas and hotels. The most amazing thing is that I know one brothel where mother and daughter work. Mom is an administrator, daughter, 24 years old, is a prostitute.
As for Suter himself, he says that he never abused his position: “I must say that I did not sleep with my employees either during the existence of my institution or after.” Moreover, Suter’s current wife is aware of his past, and this does not cause conflicts in the family: “My wife is well aware of my pimping past and knows some of my former prostitutes, although she herself has never had anything to do with the f***ing business.”
After leaving the brothel business, Sinenko invested in the construction of a hotel in a regional city. Perhaps we are talking about Nizhny Novgorod. It follows from the card file of the courts that Sinenko borrowed 650 thousand rubles from his Nizhny Novgorod acquaintance, a certain A. Grishin. Grishin later told the court that Sinenko borrowed money from him for a year to open a business, but did not open it. Most likely, Sinenko took the money just in time for the opening of the hotel. The victim from Nizhny Novgorod could not get his money back for a long time, their return was complicated by the fact that he did not know Sinenko’s address.
Suter’s lawyer stated in court that the loan agreement between the friends was not concluded and that Sinenko did not take any money from Grishin at all. Moreover, they wanted to start a business together. It follows from the court decision that the failed partners even found the premises and made repairs there. In the end, the court sided with Grishin and decided to recover money from Sinenko.
“Then there were several options for activities, ranging from the sale of auto chemicals to setting up advertising campaigns. I have a predisposition to creating advertising campaigns, and I also did this – I set up targeted advertising, wrote advertising creatives, ”Suter shared with Baza.
But over time, the RKN drew attention to his posts, after which Peekaboo deleted several of Suter’s articles and his texts did not appear in the tops anymore. On the advice of a friend, Sinenko opened his own Telegram channel, where part of his audience followed him. Now Suter’s personal blog in Telegram has 33 thousand people.
Suter is solely responsible for posts and new telegram channels within Ashoo: “I work and get high from it, spending 10-14 hours a day on my projects.” The only exception is BZ indie, for which he hired a content maker.
“You have definitely seen my creatives. I have more than 40 telegram channels, and most of them are not about prostitutes,” Suter said in an interview with Baza. — For that matter, I’ll tell you as it is — I’m a PR person, I come up with advertising campaigns, create newsworthy stories, write creatives. The entire Ashu advertising campaign is my work. And I have a lot of cases, including advertising of large media, news channels, business and IT projects.”
Sinenko calls Telegram an ideal platform for finding clients in the intimate sphere. There are several reasons for this. RKN does not block Telegram, unlike directory sites, prostitutes here can sell erotic content, the client does not have to exchange a number to call a prostitute – you can call her directly in the application.
Sinenko does not disclose his income from maintaining telegram channels, but he somehow admitted that most of the money earned is invested back in projects. For example, every month he spends 300–400 thousand rubles on the development of BZ, BZ Indie and a couple of his channels. In the case of Ashoo, 95% of the money earned goes to advertising, Suter confirmed in a conversation with Base, but the site has many other expenses in addition to it.
“It seems that most of the money is eaten up by advertising, but the development of new projects is also quite expensive. Plus, Ashoo.nl’s expense is not only advertising and development. Infrastructure, tests (pentests and stress tests),” Suter explained to Baze. Pentests and stress tests that Suter talks about test the resilience of a site to hackers and increased influx of users.
The main income of Sinenko is brought by girls who post their profiles on the website and in the telegram channel. The cost of placing a regular questionnaire for Muscovites on Ashoo costs 216 rubles, for workers from St. Petersburg – 172 rubles. Elite prostitutes from Moscow pay 432 rubles, from St. Petersburg – 345. Placement of any profiles for girls from other cities of Russia is free. And to be on the main page of the site, you have to pay 40 thousand rubles for a banner. On average, about 1800 profiles are online per day on the site.
Thus, according to the most conservative estimates of “Base”, the Ashoo aggregator earns from 500 thousand rubles a day – that is, about 15 million rubles a month. Suter disagrees with this calculation. He sent the “Base” fresh statistics on the replenishment of the “wallet” Ashoo. For example, on February 5, the site earned about 390 thousand rubles. “The net profit of Ashu, given the huge expenditure side, is much less than 5 million rubles,” commented Suter.
Despite the high revenue, according to the owner of Ashoo, the project allegedly only recently began to make a profit: “Before that, they worked in the red. It took a year to pay back. But now, given our new developments, we are in a small minus, though this is a small amount. Suter added that Ashoo is far from being his only source of income. He invests in securities, cryptocurrency, telegram channels and in the production of computer games.
Not “onlifance” alone
In September 2022 Sinenko said, which is about to open an analogue of Ashoo in Europe and Latin America. Shortly before that, he himself moved with his family to Argentina, which he admitted in his telegram channel: “I’m in Argentina now, and it’s just about *** no. No, seriously, I really like it here.” Before the New Year, Suter clarified his location by posting on his channel a video of Argentines cheering in Buenos Aires celebrating the victory of their team in the 2022 World Cup.
Sinenko planned to start developing the foreign market of sex services in 2024, but due to “certain circumstances” he accelerated. Most likely, the choice of location for expanding his sex business was due to a relatively mild Argentina law in the regulation of prostitution. In the country, with impunity, you can buy sex for money, but brothels are prohibited. In simple words, individual prostitution is allowed (this business cannot be done within a radius of 500 meters from school buildings or churches. – Approx. “Bases”), and pimping is illegal.
In a conversation with Baza, Suter admitted that Ashoo is not yet ready to enter the foreign market: “Analysis of the Western market revealed a number of problems with Ashu, so the project will not appear in Europe or America in the near future.”
Now the team is working on creating an analogue of “Onlifans”. “We plan to first launch in Russia, then we want to enter the foreign market,” Suter told Baza. – It’s hard to say yet, the project has only been in development for a couple of months. But there are definitely plans for Europe and America.”
To the question why he believes that the analogue of “Onlifans” will be in demand, Suter confidently answered: “When “Ashu” appeared, the market of intimate catalogs was occupied by “Intimcity”, “Rusdosug” and “Leisure” for 20 years. During these two decades, there were many who wanted to enter the market, but no one succeeded. Ashu could. Therefore, the new project will be able to.”