Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : US Soldier Jailed for Nearly Four Years in Russia

Gordon Black, a US Army staff sergeant, who was detained in Russia on May 2 on suspicion of stealing from a woman he was in a relationship with, appears in a court in Vladivostok, Russia, June 19, 2024. REUTERS/Tatiana Meel
Gordon Black, a US Army staff sergeant, who was detained in Russia on May 2 on suspicion of stealing from a woman he was in a relationship with, appears in a court in Vladivostok, Russia, June 19, 2024. REUTERS/Tatiana Meel
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US Soldier Jailed for Nearly Four Years in Russia

Gordon Black, a US Army staff sergeant, who was detained in Russia on May 2 on suspicion of stealing from a woman he was in a relationship with, appears in a court in Vladivostok, Russia, June 19, 2024. REUTERS/Tatiana Meel
Gordon Black, a US Army staff sergeant, who was detained in Russia on May 2 on suspicion of stealing from a woman he was in a relationship with, appears in a court in Vladivostok, Russia, June 19, 2024. REUTERS/Tatiana Meel

A US soldier was sentenced on Wednesday to nearly four years in a Russian penal colony after being found guilty by a Russian court of stealing $113 from his girlfriend and making threats to kill her, a Reuters witness reported from the courtroom.
The judgement brings an end to a tempestuous love story that brought together - and then tore apart - a married US staff sergeant and a Russian woman after an international romance that stretched from South Korea to Russia.
Gordon Black, a 34-year-old US staff sergeant, was detained on May 2 in Russia's far eastern city of Vladivostok after an argument with his girlfriend, Alexandra Vashchuk, whom he had met while in South Korea.
Judge Yelena Stepankova of the Pervomaisky District Court of Vladivostok found Black guilty of stealing 10,000 roubles ($113) from Vashchuk's purse and threatening to kill her.
"The court found that Black G. K. in the period from 05/01/2024 to 05/02/2024, while in an apartment on Sakhalinskaya Street in Vladivostok, during a quarrel that arose on the basis of personal hostility, threatened to kill the victim," the court said.
He "also committed theft," the court said.
Black, standing in a glass cage in the court room, was sentenced to three years and nine months in a Russian penal colony and ordered to pay back the 10,000 roubles.
He pleaded not guilty to threatening to kill her but admitted he was partially guilty of taking the money, though out of necessity. His defense lawyer will appeal the verdict.
Prosecutors said that during an argument at Vashchuk's apartment, Black had grabbed her by the neck and then took the money. Black argued that Vashchuk had drunk half a bottle of vodka that day, was aggressive and had struck him.
Prosecutors had asked for a prison sentence of four years and eight months, while the defense asked for Black to be acquitted of all charges.
Vashchuk did not come to the court on Wednesday. Before they fell out, she had previously referred to Black on social media as her "husband" and affectionately as "pindos", a Russian slang word for Americans that roughly translates to "Yankee punk."
Black in April signed out of the Eighth Army at Camp Humphreys in the Republic of South Korea on a permanent change of station to return to Fort Cavazos in Texas, but instead he flew to China and then to Russia to meet Vashchuk.
The Pentagon has said that he broke army rules by travelling to Russia and China without authorization.
Black has a wife and child in Texas. His wife Megan told Reuters last month that he and Vashchuk had a tempestuous relationship.
Black's mother, Melody Jones, told Reuters he had followed his girlfriend to Russia even though they "fought like cats and dogs".



Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Russian Passenger Jet Crashes Flying Empty Crashes Near Moscow, Killing its Crew of 3

The Sukhoi Superjet 100 went down in the Moscow region, according to Russian emergency officials. - The AP
The Sukhoi Superjet 100 went down in the Moscow region, according to Russian emergency officials. - The AP
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Russian Passenger Jet Crashes Flying Empty Crashes Near Moscow, Killing its Crew of 3

The Sukhoi Superjet 100 went down in the Moscow region, according to Russian emergency officials. - The AP
The Sukhoi Superjet 100 went down in the Moscow region, according to Russian emergency officials. - The AP

A Russian passenger jet crashed Friday while flying without passengers, killing its crew of three, officials said.

The Sukhoi Superjet 100 went down in the Moscow region, according to Russian emergency officials.

The authorities said the plane belonged to Gazprom Avia, a carrier owned by the Russian state-controlled natural gas giant Gazprom.

They said the plane took off from an aircraft-making plant at Lukhovitsy 110 kilometers (68 miles) southeast of the Russian capital where it had undergone repairs. It was heading to Moscow's Vnukovo airport when it crashed.

The Investigative Committee, the country's top state criminal investigation agency, has launched a probe into the crash.

A Sukhoi Superjet crashed at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport in May 2019, killing 41. It was struck by lightning and made an emergency landing shortly after takeoff. The probe blamed the pilot, concluding that he landed the plane heavy with unburned fuel at excessive speed, resulting in a rough touchdown that sparked a fire.