Waif-like Russian model Alesya Kafelnikova has admitted to drug-taking, eating disorders, slashing her wrists and deeply troubled relations with her famous father, ex-world number one tennis star Yevgeny Kafelnikov.
In a searingly honest interview, she laid bare the pressures she has faced as the daughter of a top Moscow sports star who felt misunderstood by her busy parents from her early childhood.
For several years, the young model, now 19, has publicly denied having an eating disorder despite public rebukes for her skinny appearance from her famous father.
Alesya Kafelnikova, 19, has opened up about her struggles with depression and the ‘broken’ relationship with her father, tennis legend Yevgeny Kafelnikov
Alesya now admits that she suffered from bulimia after years of denying she had an eating disorder despite her father’s public comments
She also tells of how she became hooked on drugs while in the UK because it gave her a sense of freedom that she never had as a child
Now she has opened up in an extraordinarily candid interview in Russian Tatler revealing the impact of her broken family, and her resentment at feeling judged by family friends including Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich.
She told how she felt Britain was her salvation yet revealed it was also where she obtained drugs, and how her first love was her London psychologist.
Alesya told Tatler she is now overcoming her problems via therapy and rehabilitation which her father has paid for.
The model goes to anonymous sessions each evening when she can speak openly about her problems.
She now claims: ‘I’m back.’
Alesya complained that as a child she was ‘constantly controlled’ by former Wimbledon star Kafelnikov, now 43, who has admitted to being a ‘failed father’.
Her mother Maria Tishkova, a former model, also 43, split from her father when she was aged one – although they reportedly got back together three years ago.
Her childhood was dominated by nannies and drivers who picked her up from school, and it was ‘so humiliating’ that her parents were not there for her, she said.
‘My mum and dad were always busy with their own lives.
‘Our communication was reduced to me being constantly reprimanded: ‘Why can’t you be normal?’, ‘Why don’t you brush your hair like Anya?’, ‘Why can’t you study for ‘A’ marks like Masha?.’
Alesya said she had very little contact with her father (pictured together) or mother as a child and instead dealt with nannies or drivers
As a teenager she remembers being constantly berated by a father determined to see her as guilty, and was told ‘I was not capable of anything’
She bemoaned: ‘They told me that I was not capable of anything.’
Her famous father was too ready to see her as ‘guilty’, she said.
By 14 she was told she had potential as a model but had to be slimmer.
‘I lost weight rapidly, dreaming of contracts in Paris. And I made myself bulimic.’
She persuaded her father to send her to boarding school in Britain but this did not bring the salvation she hoped for.
Her only real friend, an African-American called Fatu, told her she was like a ‘vampire’ and ‘strange’.
‘For the first time I thought about death,’ she told Russian Tatler. ‘It seemed to me it was the only way to cope with my suffering. I remember my first cut very clearly.’
She said: ‘I got what I wanted, relief from pain through punishing myself.
‘It is like when you’re high [on drugs] only your hands are very cold.
Alesya spoke to the Russian version of Tatler
‘At school they sent me to the psychologist, and I was diagnosed with depression and anorexia – probably I was very slim, but it did not seem so to me.
‘They reported this to my Mum and I persuaded her not to tell Dad.
‘She believed me that I would not cut myself anymore, but it captured me.
‘My psychologist was the first person I loved with all my heart.’
On a holiday in Moscow she came into contact for the first time with the ‘golden youth’ – the scions of Russia’s money-no-object wealthy set.
She started wearing ‘feminine dresses and heels’, and become the daughter her father ‘wanted to see’.
Back in London after a failed relationship with rap singer Pharaoh, she started working for Elite model agency for £300 a day.
But at home in the evening ‘I sat there with my depression’.
She told Tatler: ‘It was in London that I tried weed for the first time.
‘It gave me a feeling of an immense pleasure; for a short while, I got back my lost balance.This is how my affair with drugs began.
‘When I felt that I was feeling bad, I smoked. A ten-joint bag was £40, with free home delivery. Wasn’t it cool? And the main thing is that I felt free.
‘All my life I was doing everything as Dad had asked me to, I strangled my own desires – even the most innocent.
‘Do you know how badly I was berated after shaving one of my arms out of curiosity in my childhood? Like I’d killed someone.
After shaving one of her arms during childhood just to see how it felt, Alesya said she was berated ‘as if I’d killed someone’
Now she has replaced drugs and eating disorders with workouts, and is taking part in anonymous therapy sessions and rehab
As she heals her relationship with her father is also improving, she said, and he has admitted failing as a parent
‘Now finally I felt that the long-awaited time of my own decisions have arrived. I dyed my hair pink. I went back to wearing jeans and sweaters.
‘Like a traveller in a desert, I couldn’t get enough of the freedom that fell on me.’
She claimed that her father’s friends, including Abramovich, disapproved of a boyfriend and suggested she was ‘going in the wrong direction’.
Her father ‘blocked’ her bank cards and ‘took away my driver’.
She then split with her Russian boyfriend but lost the will to live and was admitted to a Russian ‘mental clinic’.
But this was the start of her salvation, she said.
She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was in rehabilitation for two months, an experience she claims has changed her.
‘I now live by the regime,’ she said. ‘Having hard workouts I’m like punishing myself and this brings me pleasure again.
‘Earlier I could cut myself or take drugs and now I have workout. It is a victory for me…. Every evening I go to the meeting of anonymous drug addicts.
‘There I can speak about all my problem without shame.’
She revealed her love-hate relationship with her father.
She claimed ‘my surname haunts me’ and her father ‘used to control me more than love me’. She said: ‘This control was an impetus to my revolt.’
She is furious with him for Tweeting about her ‘overdose’.
In her rehab, psychologists refused to allow communication with her father ‘so I did not have nervous breakdowns’.
She said: ‘Now my dad is trying to build relations with me. It’s difficult for us both. We are different people.’
But she thanks him for not abandoning her. ‘He paid for the treatment.’
She feels he ‘loves me and tries to protect me’ while her mother has ‘listened’ to her for hours on end.