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Reclusive Siberian hermit Agafia Lykov comes out of isolation to say Happy New Year

By Anna Liesowska
31 December 2014

She has lived in the wilderness for 71 years but famous Old Believer faces the cameras to deliver world a message for first time.

'I wish everyone good health, spriritual salvation, prosperinty, well-being and long years ahead'. Picture: Igor Nazarov

A famous Siberian hermit who has only ever ventured out of isolation a handful of times has come out of hiding to deliver a New Year message to the world. Reclusive Agafya Lykova is the sole survivor of family of Old Believers that cut themselves off from civilisation for decades and in 1978 had no idea the World War Two had ended.

Members of a fundamentalist Russian orthodox church that had been persecuted since the days of Peter the Great in the 18th century, the Lykovs had fled deep into the Siberian wilderness amid a Stalinist purge of religions in 1936. As the years passed they retreated deeper and deeper into forests, foraging for whatever they could find and once even being forced to eat their leather shoes to survive.

Their full incredible story only emerged in the 1980s, turning them into a national phenomenon although Agafya chose to remain on the little plot.

Now the last remaining member of the family, even to this day she has only ventured out from isolation six times in her 71 years. However, for the first time she has gone in front of television cameras to wish the world a prosperous and fruitful New Year.

Giving an interview to NTV she said: 'I wish everyone good health, spriritual salvation, prosperinty, well-being and long years ahead'.

Reclusive Siberian hermit Agafia Lykov comes out of isolation to say Happy New Year
Agafya Lykova, 71. Picture: Alexander Kuznetsov, Krasnoyarsky Rabochiy 

Agafya, who was born in 1943, was given a handful of presents during the visit from the television crew, including batteries for her torch, candles, food for her goats and a food pack containing fruit and sweets. Her life in the Siberian countryside is tough and she told NTV correspondent Sergey Syrkin that she is now finding the harsh winter 'unbearable'.

He said: 'It’s hard to heat her izba (log house) and she fails to save enough products. Wild animals often come to her lodge and steal her food'.

During the interview he also discovered that the reclusive woman tries to chase away anyone who visits her with a cough or a cold. It was this partly this illness that killed her brothers and father, and she is scared of the symptoms. At the beginning of winter her neighbour, geologist Yerofey Sedov, came down with an illness and she told him to stay way.

Agafya said: 'He was coughing and coughing and I got scared. For me it’s case of if you cough, get away from here'.

Agafya has called the wilderness home for all of her seven decades, with her little plot located about 500 feet up a remote mountain side in the Abakan Range, in south-western Siberia. She was the fourth child of Karp and Akulina Lykov and for the first 35 years of her life she had no contact at all with anyone outside her family.

It was in the summer of 1978 that a group of geologists accidentally stumbled across the group, with scientists reporting that Agafia spoke a strange blurred language 'distorted by a lifetime of isolation'. Her father, Karp Lykov, had taken the decision to flee normal civilisation in 1936 after a communist patrol arrived at the fields on which he was working and shot dead his brother.

Gathering a few meagre possessions and some seeds, he took his wife, Akulina, their nine-year-old son, Savin, and two-year-old daughter Natalia, and headed off into the forest. Over the years they retreated deeper into taiga, building a series of wooden cabins amid the pine trees.

Reclusive Siberian hermit Agafia Lykov comes out of isolation to say Happy New Year

Reclusive Siberian hermit Agafia Lykov comes out of isolation to say Happy New Year
The Lykovs' house pictured in the middle of 80s, and Agafya some years ago. Pictures: Igor Nazarov, Vladimir Makuta

When their metal pots had disintegrated beyond use, they were forced to live on a staple diet of potato patties mixed with ground rye and hemp seeds. However a bad winter in 1961 killed off everything in their garden and they were reduced to eating their own leather shoes. The cold weather, and lack of food, tragically proved too much for Akulina who died.

Once the family was discovered they continued to live in the wilderness and, apart from salt, knives, forks and handles, they opted not to adopt any methods or items from the modern world. Sadly just two years later three of the four children also died: Savin and Natalia suffered kidney failure and Dmitry died of pneumonia.

Agafya’s father died in his sleep in February 1988, but despite her age and the risks to her health she continues to live on the little homestead.

A number of people, including Aman Tuleyev, the governor of Kemerovo Oblast, do keep an eye out for her, bringing her provisions including cabbage, flour, grapes and her favourite oranges. Vladimir Makuta, head of Tashtagolskyi region of Kemerovskaya Oblast, said: 'It is important for us to know she has everything she needs, that she’ll live another winter and will have food'.

Comments (66)

agafia I have tride to reed all I can find on your history love you very much ,only wish I could come and stay with you but you see I live in a nother country my health is bad but I would try to take good care of are a great inspernation to me love you girl hope the best that life has to offer, god bless you take care of your self'
harold hammonds, jamestown tennessee usa 2/16/2016 /8;48 pm.
17/02/2016 09:03
this has to be one of the purest souls
mariam farrouk, greenville south carolina united states
25/01/2016 07:26
Happy New Year Agafya. It is now 2016 and my thoughts and prayers continue to be with you for a healthy year. God bless you dear lady.
Troy Townsend , London Ontario Canada
20/01/2016 14:31
Agafia, hope you are doing fine and still living the life you liked. You are such a kind person with a pure soul. You are not alone, because we, from different parts of the world, are all with you. God bless you, with good health and peacefulness.
Xi Pang, China
07/01/2016 05:28
Agafia, God be with you. I hope that you are still well and able to live the life that is so important to you. I am in awe of what you are still able to do.
Ilona Maves, Bellingham, Washington, USA
06/01/2016 07:37
Help her out as in assisting a 71 year old woman who may need assistance in some area, planting, harvesting, gathering wood, Its not about not letting her live as she wishes. Helping is not necessarily a negative thing its about mutual benefit. She has inspired many of us in the western world who have an abundance of "things" and "comforts" and yet we know as she has found out nothing outside us can ever truly satisfy us it must come from within. She has found that golden key, her faith in the one who has truly sustained her.
Wanda Bradford, Fredericksburg VA
25/12/2015 07:23
I am amazed by the simplicity and innocence of this woman. Truly admirable... That said, I think it's time for her to move a little closer to civilization. She could sell her place to researchers or something. Unless someone wants to go there and help - year round - she simply can't continue to live so far from any assistance in such harsh surroundings..
Maureen, NY USA
14/12/2015 02:31
Agafia, i love You. I would be so proud and happy to meet you and help you ,leaving Just like you in the forest with cats in such a isolate place. .Hope you're in a good health
Nathalie , Nevers France
30/11/2015 07:39
Dear Agafia,

I was touched by the documentary movie about your life. You are a pure soul on this sinful and rotten world. Unfortunately, I am not able (or brave enough) to come to help you, however I believe you will get a help. I wish you all the best from the bottom of my heart!
Rob, Slovakia
21/11/2015 12:57
she's one of my favorite people in the world--she's so pure and good--i love her.
Abbas, Lebanon
11/11/2015 05:40
Such a beautiful lady. I like vet to hear her charming voice. I wish her well and happiness.
Melodie Moshure, St. Louis Missouri. USA
24/10/2015 11:09
Dear Agafia, You look healthy and at peace in your pictures. My prayer is that you will be led by God for wisdom and guidance in making decisions for your health and future. Winter is starting and you will need help for survival. I can only hope and pray for God to send his Angels from above to open doors for you and for healing in your body. Blessing to you, my dear Sister in the Lord.
Carol, USA/California
22/10/2015 22:50
An inspiration. Thru all the suffering she endures and keeps the faith. She has changed me. I am now more likely to accept, as her family did, the persecution because I am a follower of Jesus Christ........I will keep the faith and not denounce Jesus. .
mike dunn, Newbury Park, CAlifornia, US
13/10/2015 10:51
Dear Agafia!
I am very move by your lifestyle. I read the book about your life and watched your story.
I have watched your story several times. It's a fascinanting story that I would never forget.
Dear Agafia Good blees you and I will olways pray for for you., for good health.
I love you and your country Russia.
Puno zdravlja i jos mnogo ljeta draga Agafia. Greetings from Sweden
Meri Pesut, Sweden
11/10/2015 04:12
Blessed Agafia,
I thank our Lord God with all His love and mercy for you and your family. You have inspired me through your very strong faith and courage. You are very fortunate and blessed that you have live a life outside the sinful world . God made you an instrument for me to be enlightened to find and live the life of true Christian and to despise materialism and all worldliness. I will always pray for you, for good health, more blessings, love and mercy from our Lord God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
nate , Washington, USA
10/10/2015 12:20

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