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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

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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