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US soldier pleads guilty in Russia

Army Staff Sergeant Gordon Black has reportedly admitted to theft but denied assaulting a Vladivostok woman he came to visit

A US Army soldier who traveled to Vladivostok earlier this year to visit a woman whom he met while serving at an American base in South Korea has reportedly admitted that he stole money from her.

Staff Sergeant Gordon Black pleaded guilty to theft charges at a hearing in Primorsky Court, Russian media outlets reported on Monday. He denied allegations that he also assaulted and threatened to kill the woman, who has been identified as Aleksandra Vashuck.

According to US media reports, the married soldier took leave in April when he was supposed to be returning to his home base in Texas, and instead traveled through China to visit Vashuck at her apartment in Vladivostok. He failed to notify the Army of his trip to Russia and did not get the required permission for international travel.

The 35-year-old Black stayed with Vashuck, who was described as his girlfriend, for about a month. He allegedly assaulted her during a quarrel and took 10,000 rubles ($113) from her wallet. Russian authorities apprehended Black in a local hotel room, which he allegedly paid for with the stolen money.

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At Monday’s court hearing, Black said he wanted to return the cash before leaving Russia, so he transferred the money to Vashuck through an acquaintance. Media reports last month indicated that the sergeant was cooperating with local authorities and had admitted to taking the money. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted on all charges.

Vashuck has urged Russian authorities to provide Black with psychological counseling, rather than sending him to prison. “I do not want him to be severely punished,” she reportedly told the court. “He is ill. The man needs help.” She added that the US Army was well aware of Black’s condition, including a propensity for angry outbursts and drunkenness, but failed to provide him with treatment.


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The US State Department has advised Americans not to travel to Russia, alleging that they could be targeted for incarceration. At least a dozen US citizens are reportedly being detained in the country. Russian officials have denied making any unjustified arrests. Just last month, an American man was sentenced to ten days in jail for “petty hooliganism” after he passed out from drunkenness while partially naked in a Moscow children’s library.

The next hearing in Black’s case is scheduled for Wednesday.


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