American Military Personnel Imprisoned in Russia for Four Years

American Military Personnel Imprisoned in Russia for Four Years

According to Russian official media, an American soldier who had been detained in Russia earlier this year was given a term of almost four years in prison on Wednesday.

Staff Sergeant Gordon Black, 34, was sentenced to three years and nine months in a Russian penal colony for allegedly stealing and threatening to kill his girlfriend, Alexandra Vashchuk. While denying making threats of death, he entered a partial guilty plea to the theft allegation.

In addition, RIA Novosti and Tass court reports state that he was mandated to pay $115 in damages.

Defense attorneys requested that Black be found not guilty of any counts, while prosecutors urged for a sentence of four years and eight months in jail.

After accusing Black of stealing from her, she was arrested on May 2 after she took a plane to Vladivostok, Russia, to visit Vashchuk.

A few weeks ago, Vashchuk informed reporters that Black “became aggressive and attacked her” after a “simple domestic dispute,” which allegedly resulted in him stealing money from her wallet without her consent.

According to Pentagon rules, service members need permission from a security manager or commander before they can travel abroad. According to a previous statement from the U.S. Army, Black did not request clearance and the Department of Defense did not sanction his trip to Russia.

Black, who was on vacation at the time, signed out of Camp Humphreys in South Korea to return to his home post in Texas, then he went to Russia “for personal reasons” after that, according to Army spokesman Cynthia Smith.

Despite having a wife and a child back home, he met his Russian girlfriend while stationed in South Korea, according to U.S. officials.

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After “some type of domestic dispute or altercation” with Black last fall, she departed South Korea, according to the AP. It’s unclear if she was forced to leave South Korea by the government.

An already tense relationship with Russia is made more so by Black’s sentencing; tensions are raised by the conflict against Ukraine and the few Americans detained in Russia.

Whelan and Gershkovich are being wrongfully detained, according to the U.S. government, which is currently negotiating their release.


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