US Soldier Tells Russian Court He Did Not Threaten to Kill His Girlfriend

By Reuters
June 17, 2024Europe
US Soldier Tells Russian Court He Did Not Threaten to Kill His Girlfriend
US Army soldier Gordon Black appears in court in the far eastern city of Vladivostok on June 6, 2024. (Pavel Korolyov/AFP via Getty Images)

U.S. soldier Gordon Black pleaded not guilty in a Russian court on Monday to charges of threatening to kill his girlfriend but admitted he was “partially” guilty of stealing from her, Russian state media said.

RIA news agency said the soldier, speaking through an interpreter, “partially” acknowledged his guilt on the charge of stealing 10,000 roubles ($113) from his girlfriend Alexandra Vashchuk’s purse but said that “there was no intent.”

On the other charge, Mr. Black denies the accusation that he grabbed Ms. Vashchuk by the neck during a quarrel, causing her to fear for her life.

RIA said Ms. Vashchuk testified that Mr. Black need psychiatric help, not heavy punishment, and that she was not willing to reconcile with him because she had not received compensation.

Another state news agency, TASS, quoted Ms. Vashchuk as saying that Mr. Black had been aggressive to her more than once.

The pair had met in South Korea, where Mr. Black was stationed. The Pentagon has said that he broke army rules by travelling to Russia without authorisation, having passed through China.

Mr. Black has a wife and child in Texas. His wife Megan told Reuters last month that he and Ms. Vashchuk had a tempestuous relationship and that once, during a video call, she and her daughter saw Ms. Vashchuk pull a knife on Mr. Black and leave him with a bloodied face.

Mr. Black’s mother, Melody Jones, told Reuters he had followed his girlfriend to Russia even though they “fought like cats and dogs.”

Regarding the theft charge, TASS quoted Mr. Black as saying in court that he had transferred a total of over $500 to Ms. Vashchuk via an acquaintance before he was arrested—much more than the amount he was alleged to have stolen.

TASS quoted Ms. Vashchuk as saying he had also contributed most of the cost of an apartment where they had been staying. Mr. Black said he had transferred about 300,000 roubles to her before he arrived in Vladivostok from South Korea.

Both sides will present arguments in court at the next session on June 19, where Mr. Black will have a chance to make a concluding statement.

($1 = 88.50 roubles)