Support The Moscow Times!

Janitor Demands $3M as Face of Russian Chocolate Bar 'Alyonka'

A janitor has asked confectionery manufacturer Krasny Oktyabr to give her $3 million for use of her picture on Russia's most famous chocolate bar, the Life news agency reported Thursday.

Yelena Anisina, from the Siberian town of Chita, claims that her face appears on the packaging of the celebrated "Alyonka" chocolate bar.

The 50-year-old said that her picture was taken by a photographer 47 years ago when she was walking with her mother in the street. "They told my mother that my picture would appear on the wrapper of a Krasny Oktyabr chocolate bar. I've remembered that all my life," Anisina told Life in an interview.

The alleged Alyonka has said she is ready to do whatever is necessary to prove her claims. It isn't right for the face of Russia's most famous chocolate bar to live in poverty, she told reporters.

Anisina said that she decided to send a letter to Krasny Oktyabr after hearing the story of the author of famous Russian Christmas song, "The Forest Raised a Christmas Tree." The author was able to claim royalties despite the many years which had passed since writing it.

"I was struck with idea that they owe me something for 'Alyonka'," Anisina said. "I want $3 million. My conscience does not allow me to ask for more."

Representatives for the factory deny that picture of a real girl is used in the chocolate bar's design. They say that the image was created by the artist back in the 1960s, when 'Alyonka' was created.

"People often write to us, insisting that it is their picture on the wrapper,” said representative of the United Confectioners holding Olga Unuchina. “But if you put a scarf on any child's head, you will see the same face as the one on the chocolate bar."

If she receives the compensation, Anisina says she will give the money to her four children who spent their childhood in poverty. The four had to wear sneakers in depths of winter as there was no money to provide them with proper shoes, the ZabTV channel reported.

"Sometimes I think that $3 million is such a huge number, it even scares me," Anisina said. "But then I think that it is not that much. These merchants' monthly income is $180 million," she said to ZabTV.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

As we approach the holiday season, please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world’s largest country.