Grad student who purchased war medals in Russia spared prison time

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A Russian court fined a University of Missouri at St. Louis graduate student about $585 on Friday for purchasing Soviet war medals as souvenirs, a far lighter punishment than the prison time that she had faced.

The student, Roxana Contreras, a Chilean studying physics at the American university, was detained for two months in the Russian city of Voronezh, south of Moscow, after buying the medals at a flea market (The Chronicle, August 21). Doing so is banned under a 1994 law that had never before been applied to a foreign tourist and that was all but unknown, until now, among students visiting Russia.

"I am so happy my story had a fairly happy ending," Ms. Contreras, 29, said in a telephone interview on Friday. "I feared a worse verdict."

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