US soldier detained in Russia on theft charges

Gordon Black. Photo:  Podyom

Gordon Black. Photo: Podyom

A US soldier has been remanded in custody for two months in the Russian city of Vladivostok on theft charges, state-backed daily newspaper Kommersant reported on Tuesday.

The soldier, who has been named as Staff Sergeant Gordon Black, has been charged with “theft with the infliction of considerable damage to a person”. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.

NBC News reported on Wednesday that Black had been stationed in South Korea and travelled to Russia without seeking permission from his superiors “to visit a woman he was romantically involved with”.

US Army spokesperson Cynthia Smith said in a statement that a soldier had been detained in Russia on Thursday, adding that Russia had informed the US Department of State about his arrest in accordance with the Vienna Convention.

Black’s arrest is the latest in a string of incidents affecting US citizens in Russia, among them Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, former marine Paul Whelan, and RFE/RL journalist Alsu Kurmasheva.

US officials have accused Russia of using detained American citizens as “pawns to achieve political ends”.

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