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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

Sunday, Jan. 25


Get out your running shoes for the 46th International Road of Life Marathon. Dedicated to the end of the blockade, three runs are offered — 5, 21 and 42 kilometer runs — starting in different places outside the city. Busses leave from 13/1 Arsenalnaya Naberezhny at 8 a.m. but check complete details and registration fees on www.newrunners.ru/race/doroga-zhizni-2015



If you are planning a wedding, head over to the Azimut Hotel, 43/1 Lermontovsky Prospekt from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The day includes live music, free dance classes and vendors selling wedding dresses, accessories, cakes and services to help make your special day perfect. Admission is free.



Monday, Jan. 26


Feeling stressed by the crisis? The Northwest Coach University at 3 Ulitsa Vostsstanaya is hosting a master class by lifecoach Tatiana Almazova. She will shed light on the coaching process, the usefulness of coaching during times of economic downturn and how coaching can improve your career and business prospects. The event starts at 7 p.m. and admission is free. Pre-register by calling 424 3700.



Discover the State Hermitage Museum's collection of English painting at a lecture by art historian Yelizaveta Renne at the Prince Galitzine Library, 46 Nab. Reki Fontanki. The event starts at 6 p.m. and the lecture will be followed by a concert of arias, songs and duets by English composer Henry Purcell. The event is free of charge.



Tuesday, Jan. 27


Celebrate the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.







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