All Happy Families Are Alike

Cheburashka (center) and friends. Photo: Yulia Vlasova/

A monument entitled The Happy Family was unveiled in the park near Kaliningrad’s Lower Lake. Located between the Palace of Creativity of Children and Youth and the Regional Trade Unions Federation building, the site was transferred to the church in 2012. In 2022, the Kaliningrad Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church applied to the Kaliningrad administration for permission to beautify the park. However, by that time the square had already actually been landscaped, only the promised sculpture was missing.

The unveiling ceremony took place on Thursday, May 11. The Happy Family is represented by a woman sitting on a bench with a small child surrounded by two more children, a man and a dog. On the same bench there is a sign saying “Do not look for your happiness in other people’s families. You won’t find it there.” A less noticeable sign is attached to the back of the bench, stating that “Happy Family Park was created by the Kaliningrad Diocese with the support of the Governor of the Kaliningrad Region Anton Alikhanov and Yevgeny Verkholaz.” Ivan Melnikov, a sculptor from Samara, authored the composition.

Both Governor Anton Alikhanov and Regional Legislative Assembly deputy Yevgeny Verkholaz joined Archbishop of Kaliningrad and the Baltics Seraphim in unveiling the monument. Verkholaz, in particular, called on everyone wishing for a happy family life to stroke the members of the sculpted nuclear family unit and make a wish, explaining that he himself, for example, had stroked the girl and fathered a daughter.

The event was also attended by the chairman of the Regional Legislative Assembly Andrei Kropotkin, the head of the Kaliningrad administration Elena Dyatlova accompanied by the new head of the city Oleg Aminov, State Duma deputy Marina Orgeeva, and Senator [sic] Alexander Yaroshuk.

Source: Yulia Vlasova, “Yaroshuk, Cheburashka, Alikhanov: Happy Family monument unveiled in Kaliningrad (photo reportage),” Novyi Kaliningrad, 11 May 2023. Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Marina Varchenko for the heads-up. The Happy Family seems to have provoked a mostly negative reaction among the readers of the Novyi Kaliningrad VK page.

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