Russia decides punishment for US soldier arrested while visiting girlfriend

Update: The US soldier who was arrested for allegedly threatening and stealing from his girlfriend while visiting her in Russia has been sentenced to three years and nine months in a penal colony.

Gordon Black, a 34-year-old staff sergeant, was arrested last month in Vladivostok on the charges and is currently Absent Without Leave (AWOL) from the Army.


A US soldier facing legal troubles in Russia has pleaded “not guilty” after being accused of threatening his Russian girlfriend and stealing from her.

The case, which unfolds against a backdrop of strained relations between Moscow and Washington due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, involves Gordon Black, who was arrested last month in Vladivostok.

Black pleaded not guilty in a Russian court on Monday to the charge of threatening to kill his girlfriend.

However, the Soldier pleaded “partially” guilty of stealing from her, according to Russian state media.

Speaking through an interpreter, Black acknowledged taking 10,000 roubles ($113) from his girlfriend Alexandra Vashchuk’s purse, but insisted there was no criminal intent behind the action.

Black denies the accusation of grabbing Vashchuk by the neck during an argument, which allegedly caused her to fear for her life.

Vashchuk testified that Black needs psychiatric help rather than severe punishment and expressed no willingness to reconcile with him, citing a lack of compensation.

The Russian national also mentioned that Black had shown aggression towards her on multiple occasions.

According to Reuters, the two met in South Korea, where Black was stationed.

Currently Absent Without Leave [AWOL], the US Department of Defense has acknowledged that Black violated army rules by traveling to Russia without authorization, passing through China to get there.

Black, who is legally married and has a wife and child in Texas, still faces serious legal troubles with the military if he manages to get released and deported by the Russians.

Black’s American wife, Megan, admitted that Black and Vashchuk had a tumultuous relationship.

In one instance, Mrs. Black recalled an incident during a video call where Vashchuk allegedly pulled a knife on Black, leaving him with a bloodied face.

Black’s mother, Melody Jones, claimed that despite their frequent fights, Black followed Vashchuk to Russia.

Black mentioned in court that he had sent over $500 to Vashchuk through an acquaintance before his arrest, which is much more than the amount he is accused of stealing.

Black also claimed he had contributed significantly to the cost of an apartment where they were staying, having transferred around 300,000 roubles to her before his arrival in Vladivostok from South Korea.

The court will hear further arguments from both sides in the next session on June 19, during which Black will have an opportunity to make a final statement.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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