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Russia imprisons US soldier Gordon Black as it suspends prisoner swap deal | Prison News

Russia imprisons US soldier Gordon Black as it suspends prisoner swap deal |  Prison News
Russia imprisons US soldier Gordon Black as it suspends prisoner swap deal |  Prison News


The sentence extends the list of American citizens detained in Russia while Moscow says it is waiting for a response on prisoner exchange proposals.

A Russian court sentenced a US soldier to prison as Moscow said it was awaiting Washington's response to prisoner swap proposals.

Vladivostok's Pervomaisky District Court on Wednesday sentenced U.S. Staff Sergeant Gordon Black to three years and nine months in prison for stealing $113 from his girlfriend and threatening to kill her, according to state agencies TASS and Sputnik.

This conviction adds to the list of American citizens imprisoned in Russia amid a deterioration in relations caused by the invasion of Ukraine. A senior official said the same day that Moscow was waiting for Washington to respond to its latest prisoner exchange proposals.

Their problem

Russia holds at least a dozen US citizens in prison, including corporate security manager Paul Whelan, musician Travis Leake arrested last year on drug charges, teacher Marc Fogel sentenced to 14 years in prison, also for drugs, and Ksenia Khavana, who has dual nationality.

On Tuesday, a court rejected the appeal of another passport-holding twin, Alsou Kurmasheva, against the extension of her pre-trial detention. The Radio Free Europe journalist was arrested eight months ago and accused of spreading false information about the army.

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is to be tried behind closed doors on Tuesday on espionage charges, which he has denied.

President Vladimir Putin said in February that negotiations on a prisoner exchange involving the journalist were underway, but the Kremlin gave no details on the progress of the negotiations.

The ball is in the court of the United States, we are waiting for them to respond to the ideas presented to them, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the official TASS news agency.

They are well known to the relevant services of the American administration. I understand that, perhaps, something in these ideas does not suit Americans. That’s their problem, he added.

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands in a glass cage in a courtroom at the First Court of Appeal of General Jurisdiction in Moscow, Russia, April 23, 2024. [Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo]
Tumultuous affair

Black, 34, was arrested last month in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok, where he was visiting his Russian girlfriend Alexandra Vashuk.

Vashuk accused Black of stealing 10,000 rubles ($113) and threatening her. The soldier's family, including his wife and the mother of his child in Texas, said the two had a tempestuous affair.

Standing in a glass cage in the courtroom, Black pleaded partially guilty to theft and not guilty to threatening to kill. His lawyer will appeal the verdict.

Black and Vashuk met in South Korea in October 2022 on the dating app Tinder, then met there. Vashuk then invited Black to Vladivostok.

This year, Black left Eighth Army at Camp Humphreys in the Republic of South Korea to return to Fort Cavazos in Texas for a permanent change of station, but instead flew to China and then to Russia to meet with Vashchuk.

The Pentagon said Black violated Army rules by traveling to Russia and China without authorization.




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