US Soldier Sentenced to Nearly Four Years in Russian Prison

June 19, 2024 by No Comments

A U.S. Army Staff Sergeant, Gordon Black, 34, was sentenced to nearly four years in a Russian penal colony on Wednesday, according to Russian state media.

Black was convicted on charges of theft and threats of murder, allegations brought by his girlfriend, Alexandra Vashchuk. Black pleaded guilty to the theft charge but denied the murder threats.

He was also ordered to pay $115 in damages, according to court reports.

Prosecutors sought a four-year and eight-month sentence, while defense lawyers requested a lesser sentence.

Black, who had flown to Vladivostok, Russia, to see Vashchuk, was detained on May 2 after she accused him of stealing from her.

Vashchuk told reporters that Black “became aggressive and attacked her” during a “simple domestic dispute,” leading to the alleged theft from her wallet.

states that service members cannot travel internationally without clearance from a security manager or commander. Black did not seek clearance, and his trip to Russia was unauthorized by the Department of Defense.

Black, who was on leave, traveled to Russia “for personal reasons” after signing out from Camp Humphreys in South Korea to return to his home base in Texas.

He met his girlfriend, who is Russian, while stationed in South Korea, despite having a wife and child back home.

She left South Korea last fall after a domestic dispute with Black. It’s unclear if South Korean authorities were involved in her departure.

Black’s sentencing adds further tension to U.S.-Russia relations, already strained by the war in Ukraine and other disputes.

Black joins Paul Whelan, Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, musician Travis Leake, teacher Marc Fogel, and dual nationals Alsu Kurmasheva and Ksenia Khavana who are currently incarcerated in Russia.

The U.S. government has declared Whelan and Gershkovich as wrongfully detained and is working to secure their release.