Russian court sentences US soldier accused of robbery to nearly 4 years in prison

MOSCOW (AP) — A court in the Russian Far Eastern city of Vladivostok on Wednesday sentenced a U.S. soldier arrested earlier this year for robbery and death threats to three years and nine months in prison, Russian media reports said.

According to US officials and Russian authorities, Sgt. Gordon Black, 34, had traveled to Vladivostok, a port city on the Pacific Ocean, to visit his girlfriend and was taken into custody after she accused him of robbing her.

The judge also ordered Black to pay 10,000 rubles ($115) in damages, Russian state news agencies TASS and RIA Novosti reported from the courtroom of the Pervomaisky District Court in Vladivostok. Prosecutors requested a prison sentence of four years and eight months for Black.

Black’s conviction further complicates relations between Washington and Moscow, which have become even more strained as the war in Ukraine drags on.

Russia holds several US citizens in its prisons, including executive Paul Whelan and Wall Street Journal reporter Ivan Gershkovitch. Washington says both were wrongly arrested and has attempted to negotiate their release.

Those detained include Travis Leake, a musician who had been living in Russia for years and was arrested last year on drug-related charges; Mark Fogel, a professor in Moscow who was sentenced to 14 years in prison on drug charges; and Alsou Kurmasheva and Ksenia Khavana, both with dual nationality.

The Department of State strongly advises US citizens not to travel to Russia.

Under Pentagon policy, military members must have authorization from a security officer or commander to travel abroad.

The US military said last month that Black had not applied for a permit and did not have approval from the Defense Department. Given the hostilities in Ukraine and the threats to Washington and its military, it is highly unlikely that he would get the green light to travel to Russia.

(TagstoTranslate)General News

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