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U.S. NGO Consultant Faces Deportation in 'Perfect Storm'

Published: August 7, 2014 (Issue # 1823)



  • Jennifer Gaspar and her Russian husband, Ivan Pavlov, in St. Petersburg.
    Photo: Jennifer Gaspar

How does an expat get kicked out of Russia after living here for a decade? These days, a U.S. passport, NGO work and marriage to a "foreign agent" may be enough.

At least, this is the only way U.S. citizen Jennifer Gaspar and her Russian husband Ivan Pavlov can make sense of the otherwise inexplicable deportation order she found in her mailbox this week.

"It's a perfect storm. Several factors came together," Pavlov, a prominent human rights lawyer, told The St. Petersburg Times on Wednesday.

The deportation order, which required Gaspar to leave Russia by Wednesday, declares her a threat to national security and constitutional order.

She now faces separation from her 5-year-old daughter, a Russian citizen, though she said she hopes to stall the deportation in court. No date had been set for a hearing as of Wednesday.

Officials have not elaborated on the alleged threat posed by Gaspar, who works as an independent consultant for several Russian NGOs.

Her clients range from Hermitage Museum fundraisers to groups labeled "foreign agents," a derogatory tag from the Stalin era slapped since 2012 on organizations with foreign funding and accused of "political activity." The definition is vague enough to have even been applied to a bird conservancy and an association of cystic fibrosis patients.

A handful of her former clients were cited by St. Petersburg news site Fontanka.ru as dismissing the allegation against her as "absurd."

The St. Petersburg branch of the Federal Migration Service, which issued the deportation order, said Wednesday when contacted by The St. Petersburg Times that it was only executing a decision of the Federal Security Service (FSB), a successor agency of the Soviet KGB.

A spokesman for the FSB's St. Petersburg branch said he would not comment for a Moscow-based publication.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Nov. 26


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee will meet this afternoon in their office in the New St. Isaac’s Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha at 4 p.m.


Zoosphere, an international exhibition focusing on the pet industry, opens today at the Lenexpo convention center on Vasilievsky Island. Not only will items such as toys, terrariums and accessories be available for purchase, but animal enthusiasts can also learn about the latest in veterinary medicine and behavioral training thanks to the conferences and presentations that are part of the event.



Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg’s showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the team’s website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literature’s most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poet’s birthday. The tragic tenor’s work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russia’s greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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