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German 'Sex Refugee' Offered New Home In Russia

  • RFE/RL's Russian Service

Eugen Martens (second from right) was greeted at the Stavropol railway station by Vladimir Poluboyarenko (right) and his lawyer, Aleksei Abazov, and an amateur musical group that performed a Cossack song and dance.

Eugen Martens, dubbed the German "sex refugee" by Russian media for his criticism of sexual mores in the West, is back in Russia this month after a retiree there offered the 40-year-old father of 10 use of a home and a dacha.

Martens, a Russian-born German national, says he is considering the offer but it will ultimately be a family decision.

He and his wife and children briefly left Germany last year for Russia to flee what he described as the "sexually permissive" West.

But the family returned to Germany in February after spending a little over two months in a Siberian village.

The family's plight has cast an oversized shadow as Moscow and Berlin continue to vie for regional influence.

Bilateral relations have soured over contrasting visions of European defense and unity, Russia's invasion and allegedly continuing military interference in Ukraine, a seemingly growing personal animosity between Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and more recently accusations that Moscow is trying to influence Germany's upcoming elections.

The three-story, semidetached house on the outskirts of Stavropol that former local official Vladimir Poluboyarenko has offered to the family after hearing about the case is a world apart from the rundown wooden cottage that Martens rented in the village of Kyshtovka in Novosibirsk Oblast (450 kilometers from Novosibirsk).

It boasts 13 rooms, four kitchens, a garage for multiple vehicles, and a garden.

Poluboyarenko, who worked in local government before becoming an entrepreneur in the 1990s, says that by offering his spare house to the Martens rent free, he wants to "correct the mistake" of officials in Omsk who failed to provide decent accommodation to the "German refugees."

"The [local Russian] officials disgraced our country," Poluboyarenko said. "As a patriot of my country, I will do everything to correct this situation."

Poluboyarenko (left), Martens (center), and Abazov stand in front of the house that Poluboyarenko offered to the Martenses.
Poluboyarenko (left), Martens (center), and Abazov stand in front of the house that Poluboyarenko offered to the Martenses.

A family friend of Poluboyarenko said the Martens were also offered use of a newly built wooden dacha he owns in a nearby mountain resort.

Last week, Poluboyarenko was at the Stavropol railway station for a photo opportunity greeting Martens alongside an amateur musical group that performed a Cossack song and dance for the German guest as journalists watched.

"We never had so many journalists in town," Poluboyarenko said.

Russian media extensively covered the Martenses decision to settle in Siberia, where they slept on mattresses on the floor and used a stove to heat their home during the bitterly cold winter.

Martens and his wife, Louisa, were both born in Russia but left the country along with their families for Germany in the 1990s. The couple met and married in Germany.

The Martenses, who describe themselves as "simple Christians who live by the Bible," said they were unhappy over sex education in German schools and worried about the influx of refugees there.

"There, children from the age of 1 are viewed as sexual objects," Martens alleged to RFE/RL when he first arrived in Russia in 2016.

Martens also said he and his wife were worried about young male asylum seekers residing in a refugee shelter in their German hometown.

Merkel and Germany have been at the fore of the debate over the greatest influx of refugees and other migrants to Europe since World War II, many of them from Syria and the Middle East or Afghanistan, accepting 1 million migrants in 2015 and encouraging other European Union members to follow their lead.

Late in 2015, the Martenses took advantage of a Russian government program aimed at repatriating Russians abroad.

The family has not publicly explained its abrupt return to Germany early this year.

Martens said of the Stavropol offer that he wanted to avoid a "hasty decision this time."

"I need to think about it carefully. It's a serious decision," Martens said. "I like it here in Stavropol. The climate is quite different from Siberia, and people are very friendly."

Written by Farangis Najibullah based on reporting by RFE/RL's Russian Service correspondents Timur Sazonov and Yelizaveta Maetnaya
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