U.S. NGO Consultant Faces Deportation in 'Perfect Storm'
Published: August 7, 2014 (Issue # 1823)
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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