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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

Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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