American Soldier Jailed for Over Three Years in Russian Prison

The 34-year-old US soldier arrested by Russian authorities in early May was convicted last Wednesday in a Vladivostok court of theft and making threats and was quickly sentenced to more than three years in prison.

Staff Sgt. Gordon Black, who was stationed in South Korea, flew to Vladivostok in April to visit his Russian girlfriend before he was scheduled to return stateside. He was arrested on May 2 after his girlfriend contacted police and accused Black of theft.

According to authorities in Vladivostok, Black got into an argument with the woman and left her apartment. After he was gone, the woman noticed that some money was missing from her wallet. She contacted the police who found Black in his hotel room already preparing to leave the city.

Black later pleaded guilty to the charges, according to the Department of Internal Affairs for the Primorsky region.

On June 19, a Pervomaisky District Court judge in Vladivostok sentenced Black to three years and nine months and ordered him to pay 10,000 rubles (or $115 US) in damages, according to Russian state media.

Black was on leave from Camp Humphreys in South Korea and preparing to return stateside to Texas when he flew to China and from there to Vladivostok to see his 32-year-old girlfriend whom he met in South Korea.

According to the Army, Black did not get permission from his commander or security manager to take the trip.

Under Defense Department policy, service members are required to obtain clearance for any international travel, something Black was unlikely to obtain given the Pentagon’s advisory against traveling to Russia.

His girlfriend, later identified as 32-year-old Alexandra Vashchuk, met the married staff sergeant while she was living in South Korea.

She told reporters in early June that the couple was having a “simple domestic dispute” when Black grew “aggressive” and attacked her. She said he took money out of her wallet as he left her apartment.

Vashchuk described Black as uncontrollably “violent.”