Former Ukrainian porn star and her kids finally allowed to settle in the Czech Republic

A Ukrainian woman and her three young sons have been granted permanent residency in the Czech Republic, after two years of failed attempts to gain political asylum. Unlike most asylum seekers in this country, Anastasiya Hagen and her plight have drawn a decent amount of media attention in the past year. The main reason is not necessary the family’s story itself, but the fact that Mrs. Hagen is a former pornography actress. Masha Volynsky has the details.

Anastasiya Hagen, photo: Alexei PonomarevAnastasiya Hagen, photo: Alexei Ponomarev Anastasiya Hagen Gryshai had spent time in the Czech Republic even before she fled from her native Ukraine. As a fairly popular star of adult videos, she would regularly travel to Prague to make porn movies. But in 2011, having already given up on her career, she came here in order to request political asylum, fearing that she and her husband could be arrested and her two children placed in institutional care.

Her husband of over ten years, Alexander Hagen, was a successful businessman in southern Ukraine, and allegedly became a thorn in the side of local politicians and possibly even mafia bosses. He was briefly imprisoned. Anastasiya was also dragged into the case, and, given her profession, became an easy target. Her lawyer, Pavla Rozumková, who spoke to me earlier on the phone, explained the reasons for her client’s fear of returning to her home country:

“She was involved in a case, where she was first a witness, but as a result of pressure from local authorities she was accused as well and feared arrest. She could have been given a sentence of up to seven years in prison for distribution of pornography.”

Anastasiya Hagen, photo: Alexei PonomarevAnastasiya Hagen, photo: Alexei Ponomarev After arriving in the Czech Republic the family was given a place in a facility for asylum seekers in Moravia, where they spent the next year and a half filing applications for political asylum, and subsequently appeals of the negative decisions. Last fall, the family moved to the village of Český Brod, where they purchased a small house with all of their savings and sent their older kids to school.

But when another negative decision came from the Interior Ministry, Anastayia became desperate. In early December, she staged a brief protest in front of the ministry, topless with the English words “Save my children” painted on her chest. Local and international media took notice, as did many members of the public, but to no avail. Here is what Pavla Rozumková said about the decision-making process:

“Political asylum is granted only for a number of specific reasons. For example, when a person faces persecution in his own country based on his race, religion or political views. The Interior Ministry did not deny that Mrs. Hagen faced certain problems in Ukraine, but ruled that she was not persecuted for one of the legally enumerated reasons for asylum.”

After a number of appeals were turned down by the courts, the family was told to leave by the end of August. Frustrated with the system and fearing for the welfare of her children, Mrs. Hagen tried maybe the last option she had – applying for permanent residency in the name of her children based on special humanitarian circumstances. And her efforts finally paid off.

Anastasiya Hagen, photo: Alexei PonomarevAnastasiya Hagen, photo: Alexei Ponomarev “They took into account the fact that there are three minors, the family has been living here for almost three years, the kids go to school, and there is a certain integration process taking place.”

Although Mrs. Hagen and her lawyer have not seen the ministry’s decision about permanent residency yet, Mrs. Rozumková is sure that the media interest and particularly the letters that were sent to the ministry on behalf of the Hagens from the town where the family has lived, the kids’ school, and the local church have played a significant role. Although Mr. Hagen has yet to gain permanent residence, the family can begin to adjust to a normal life in their new home country.