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US soldier accused of theft goes on trial in Russia

The suspect allegedly attacked a woman in the Russian city of Vladivostok and stole money from her

The trial has begun of an American soldier who stands accused of stealing from a local woman in the Far-Eastern Russian city of Vladivostok. The suspect, identified as US Army Staff Sergeant Gordon Black had flown to Vladivostok to visit a female acquaintance. She alleges he assaulted her, threatened to kill her and took money from her, according to Russian media reports.

Black, who is 34, reportedly arrived in Vladivostok in early April to meet a woman he had previously become acquainted with in South Korea, where he was stationed. The US soldier reportedly stayed in her apartment for about a month but was detained in early May after the woman, identified as Aleksandra Vashuck by some Russian and American media, filed a complaint to the police against him.

According to the prosecutor’s office, Black assaulted the woman during a quarrel and “forcefully grabbed her by the neck” before leaving her apartment and taking 10,000 rubles ($112) from her wallet. He was later detained in a local hotel room, which he reportedly paid for using the stolen money.

Asked by the judge if he admitted guilt, Black told the court on Thursday that he understands the nature of his charges but would put in a plea at a later stage.

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File photo.
US soldier arrested in Russia

Vashuck has called for Russian authorities to provide Black with psychological assistance rather than send him to prison. “I do not want him to be severely punished,” she told the court, according to RIA Novosti. “He is ill, the man needs help,” she maintained, adding that his condition was known to US Army authorities.

“He served in a conflict zone. He is just an unfortunate person… he needs treatment that his home country could not provide to him, even though they were well aware of [his condition],” Vashuck argued. She also said that Black was prone to anger outbursts, particularly when he was drunk.

According to ABC, Black was serving at Camp Humphreys in South Korea with the Eighth Army. In April, he took leave as he was in the process of returning to his home base at Fort Cavazos, Texas. “Instead of returning to the continental United States, Black flew from Incheon, Republic of Korea, through China to Vladivostok, Russia, for personal reasons,” Cynthia Smith, a US Army spokesperson, told the media outlet.

According to US officials, Black is married. ABC described Vashuk as Black’s “girlfriend,” while some Russian media said that the two were “romantically involved.”

Under current Pentagon policy, US service personnel must first get clearance for any international travel. The US Army said last month that Black had sought none and his trip to Russia was not authorized.

Under Russian law, Black could face up to five years behind bars.

June 07, 2024 at 12:50AM

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