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US soldier sentenced to nearly four years in Russian prison

Gordon Black pleaded guilty to theft charges, but denied assaulting a woman he was staying with in Vladivostok

A court in the Russian city of Vladivostok has sentenced US soldier Gordon Black to three years and nine months in prison, after he was found guilty of theft and making death threats against a woman with whom he was reportedly having an affair.

Black had pleaded guilty to theft charges, but denied allegations that he had assaulted and threatened to kill his girlfriend, who has been identified as Aleksandra Vashuck. The 35-year-old army staff sergeant reportedly lived with Vashuck in her Vladivostok apartment for around a month earlier this year. Following an argument, he allegedly choked her and took 10,000 rubles ($116) from her purse.

On Tuesday, a Vladivostok judge sentenced the US soldier for grand larceny and death threats. Black’s lawyer told the press that he will appeal the sentence.

At a hearing the day before, Black claimed he had wanted to return the money to Vaschuk, and had transferred funds to her via an acquaintance. His defense had asked the court to acquit him of all charges.

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The prosecution had requested a sentence of four years and eight months, alongside a 40,000 ruble ($466) fine. “The victim said that the stolen funds have not been reimbursed,” the prosecution said.

According to US media reports, Black met Vashuck on Tinder while he was stationed in South Korea. They dated until she moved back to Russia, settling in Vladivostok. His mother told the New York Post that the soldier was in the middle of a divorce from his wife, with whom he has a six-year-old daughter. Black reportedly took leave in April, and instead of going back to his home base in Texas, he traveled to Russia via China without permission from his superiors.

READ MORE: US soldier pleads guilty in Russia

June 19, 2024 at 12:15PM

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