Russia moves to deport wife of an activist
MOSCOW — Russia’s Federal Migration Service on Tuesday moved to deport the American wife of a high-profile human rights lawyer living in St. Petersburg, labeling her “a threat to national security.”
Ivan Y. Pavlov, 43, founded the Institute for Freedom of Information Development, which he said strived to make the Russian government more transparent, in 2004. He was one of a handful of activists who met with President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the G-20 summit meeting in St. Petersburg last September.
His wife, Jennifer Gaspar, 43, has lived in Russia for a decade, working for a variety of nongovernmental organizations, including groups focused on human rights issues and one that raised money for the storied Hermitage Museum.
The expulsion order arrived in the mail Tuesday, and Pavlov linked it to a long tradition of forcing government critics into exile. “They know if they expel her it means that I will go with her,” Pavlov said in a telephone interview. “I think it is their attempt to push me out of the country.”
The move comes amid a darkening climate for human rights organizations here and the worst Russian-U.S. relations in decades. No one from the Foreign Ministry or the Federal Migration Service could be reached for comment late Tuesday. T
Gaspar called the accusation “absurd” and said that the Russian government was trying to break up a family: The couple married in 2005 and have a 5-year-old daughter. “This is an incredibly inappropriate move on the part of the government to deport the mother of a young Russian citizen,” Gaspar said. “We will be fine, but I think the tragedy is in demoralizing the people who are working so hard to do something positive in Russia.”
—Neil Macfarquhar, The New York Times
US to close three
WASHINGTON — The federal government is shutting down three temporary shelters that had been opened to house a surge of unaccompanied children from Central America entering the United States across the southern border, officials said Monday afternoon.
The shelters at military bases in Texas, Oklahoma and California had provided housing for more than 7,700 children since they were opened in May and June. Tens of thousands of children have crossed the border with Mexico in recent months, sparking a political debate about what to do with the migrant children and how quickly to send them back to their homes in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. But officials at the Department of Health and Human Services, which shelters migrant children while their cases are pending, said the emergency shelters at the military bases were no longer needed.
“We are able to take this step because we have proactively expanded capacity to care for children in standard shelters, which are significantly less costly facilities,” department officials said in a statement. “At the same time, we have seen a decrease in the number of children crossing the Southwest border.”
Administration officials have said in the last two weeks that the flow of migrant children across the southern border has begun to slow, though they have cautioned that they do not know if the pace might increase again in the coming months.
For now, officials said they no longer need the extra space at the military bases. The shelter at Fort Sill in Oklahoma will no longer be used after Friday, officials said, while the shelters at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas and Naval Base Ventura County in California will be phased out over the next several weeks.
The arrival of the children prompted President Barack Obama to ask Congress for nearly $4 billion to care for the children while they are here and to process their refugee claims more quickly.
That request became bogged down in politics on Capitol Hill, where Republicans and Democrats quibbled over the amount needed to address the border crisis and about whether to change a 2008 law that provides greater protections to migrant children from countries other than Mexico.
—Michael D. Shear, The New York Times
Protesters in Sri La
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Protesters allied with the Sri Lankan government prevented U.S. and European diplomats from leaving a meeting of families of missing people for nearly two hours on Monday.
Shouting slogans about nongovernmental organizations being funded by Washington, the protesters walked into the meeting here about an hour after it had begun. They photographed several activists and families at the meeting, terrifying some family members who were fearful of government retribution.
“You are living lavishly on the U.S. dollars you earn,” some in the group yelled at the activists and families, who were campaigning to find out what happened to loved ones who disappeared in the nation’s bloody civil war, which ended in 2009.
The meeting brought together families from the formerly embattled Northern province to talk about their experiences before an audience of diplomats and representatives from civil-society organizations. Michael Honigstein, acting deputy head of mission at the U.S. Embassy, was among those present.
“I have seen firsthand the intimidation you face as families of the disappeared,” Honigstein told the family members during the disruption by the protesters. “I honor your courage to come forward and share your stories with us.” T
—Dharisha Bastians and Gardiner Harris, The New York Times