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Siberian hermit, 75, who ‘lives in 18th century’ refuses to be moved by Space Age

By The Siberian Times reporter
21 June 2019

Agafya Lykova rejects leaving her remote house even though debris from coming rocket launch could fall dangerously close.

Hermit Agafya Lykova.  Picture: Nikolay Proletsky

Agafya is perhaps the world’s most famous and remarkable hermit; recently she celebrated her 75th birthday. 

The recluse is the last survivor of a family who successfully opted out of Stalin's Russia to live in the wilderness of Khakassia republic in southern Siberia.

Her family were Orthodox Old Believers who fled into the forest to escape religious persecution in 1936.

For most of her life, she has lived much as a peasant from the 18th century with hardly any modern comforts, and guided by an ancient Bible.

Recently inspectors and officials from Khakassky Nature Reserve and Roskosmos, the Russian space agency, journeyed to her remote home to inform Agafya about the impending space launch from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Debris from an imminent rocket launch can fall in her vicinity and the officials offered to evacuate the  hermit over the danger period.

Siberian hermit, 75, who ‘lives in 18th century’ refuses to be moved by Space Age 


Siberian hermit, 75, who ‘lives in 18th century’ refuses to be moved by Space Age 

Russia's loneliest woman, hermit Agafya Lykova. Picture: Nikolay Proletsky


Agafya gave them short shrift, saying: “The rockets fell down before. So what is different now?”

She refused to budge from the home where she was born and which she has never left but for urgent hospital treatment.

As RIA Novosti put it: ‘The inspectors were not surprised to hear that she refused to leave. Everybody knows that Agafya hates leaving her home. 

‘Is there really anything that would make her go away? Probably not.’

And certainly not the Space Age.

Siberian hermit, 75, who ‘lives in 18th century’ refuses to be moved by Space Age 


Siberian hermit, 75, who ‘lives in 18th century’ refuses to be moved by Space Age 

Agafya Lykova and her her house in Siberian taiga. Pictures:Nikolay Proletsky, KP Krasnoyarsk


The director of the reserve said that while Agafya feels some pain in her joints - the reason for a brief hospital evacuation three years ago - she appeared in good health after marking her 75th birthday.

Viktor Nepomnyaschiy posted: ‘Agafya Karpovna refused to be evacuated. 

‘Talking about her life in general, she said that she has planted vegetables, has enough food, and sufficient grass for her goats in summer time. 

‘She complained a bit on her health condition, particularly pain in her legs, but so far she is managing to look after her household.’

The reserve staff pay regular visits to a woman who, in her younger years, had never met anyone outside her close family.

They bring gifts sent from all over the world to this remarkable woman who was 75 in April.

Siberian hermit, 75, who ‘lives in 18th century’ refuses to be moved by Space Age 

Agafya Lykova by her house in Siberian wilderness. Picture: KP Krasnoyarsk


Reserve deputy head Ivan Prokudin said: ‘People from all over the world are writing to Agafya and sending her parcels. This time we recevid about 100 kg of presents. 

‘We are also carrying seeds for her, she grows everything: potatoes, zucchinis, pumpkin, cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots.’

Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper gave her two new head scarves with flowers, a piece of fabric for a skirt, a dressing gown, several towels, bed linen, needles and thread, as well as dried fruit.

Agafya has weaved a belt for her favourite nature reserve inspector Sergey Khlebnikov.

She wrote on it: ‘An honest belt to the servant of God Sergey from Lykova Agafya Karpovna.’

He said: ‘She lacks communication. This is her character, she loves talking to people. 

‘When you get to her, you are so tired and exhausted after the long way, and she sits next to you and talks and talks about everything and does not go away. 

‘You would like to have a rest, to sleep after the long journey, but you have to patiently listen so that she doesn't get offended. 

‘A year and a half ago we visited her on snowmobiles in winter.

‘She asked to help her kill one goat because she did not have enough hay for him. We helped of course. 

Siberian hermit, 75, who ‘lives in 18th century’ refuses to be moved by Space Age 

Agafya Lykova with father Karl. Picture: Nikolay Proletsky


‘She put the meat right near the doorstep of her house and covered it. 

‘Next time we visited her I asked – did you eat the goat meat? – she said: ‘No, my cats finished him. They dug a tunnel to the meat under the snow and finished it bit by bit’. 

‘She has many cats, once as many as 20, but I’m not sure now.’

During Agafya's stay in ‘civilisation’ when she went to hospital she was left unimpressed by modern ways, and yearned to get back home.

'There are so many cars. Why do you need so many?' the hermit asked. 'There's so much smoke from them, there's nothing to breathe.'

She has refused many offers to move to a village over recent decades.

When wild bears get too close she protects herself by banging cutlery on a plate to scare away the beast.

Siberian hermit, 75, who ‘lives in 18th century’ refuses to be moved by Space Age 

Agafya Lykova, now 75 years old. Picture: Nikolay Proletsky


Agafya's family were discovered in 1978 after being spotted from the air by a group of geologists on a remote mountain side close to Erinat river in the Abakan Range, south-western Siberia.

When they were found, they had no idea World War Two had started - or ended. 

Agafya 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.

The scientists reported that Agafya spoke a strange blurred language ‘distorted by a lifetime of isolation’.

During her stay in ‘civilisation’ when she went to hospital she was unimpressed by modern ways, and yearned to get back home.  'There are so many cars. Why do you need so many?' she asked.  'There's so much smoke from them, there's nothing to breathe.'  She has refused many offers to move to a village over recent decades.  When wild bears get too close she proects herself by banging cutlery on a plate to scare away the beast.


During her stay in ‘civilisation’ when she went to hospital she was unimpressed by modern ways, and yearned to get back home.  'There are so many cars. Why do you need so many?' she asked.  'There's so much smoke from them, there's nothing to breathe.'  She has refused many offers to move to a village over recent decades.  When wild bears get too close she proects herself by banging cutlery on a plate to scare away the beast.

Agafya Lykova with her father Karl (L) and professor Nazarov on first picture, and on by herself. Pictures: Nikolay Proletsky


Her father had taken the decision to flee civilisation in 1936 after a communist patrol arrived on the fields where  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.

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.

The Lykovs subsisted mainly on trapped wild animals and cultivated potatoes. 

They had no firearms, no salt and did not know how to make bread.

However a bad winter in 1961 killed off everything in their garden and they were reduced to eating their own leather shoes. 

During her stay in ‘civilisation’ when she went to hospital she was unimpressed by modern ways, and yearned to get back home.  'There are so many cars. Why do you need so many?' she asked.  'There's so much smoke from them, there's nothing to breathe.'  She has refused many offers to move to a village over recent decades.  When wild bears get too close she proects herself by banging cutlery on a plate to scare away the beast.
Agafya Lykova is the last of a family that settled on the Bolshoi Abakan River in the 1930s and lived in isolation until a geologist search party stumbled on them in 1978. Picture: Alexander Kuznetsov, Krasnoyarskiy Rabochiy


The cold weather and lack of food proved too much for mother 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.

Two years after their discovery, three of the four children also died: Savin and Natalia suffered kidney failure and Dmitryperished perished from 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 permanently in her remote homestead.

Debris from an imminent rocket launch can fall in her vicinity and the officials offered to evacuate the hermit over the danger period.


Comments (80)

Thank you for publishing the story of this amazing and incredible human being. Her life story is a spiritual inspiration for me this Lent season and beyond.
Venus C. Ivanovsky, Alabama, USA
30/03/2021 10:21
0
0
Dearest Agafia,
I read your biography and wish I could come visit with you, but I know that's just a dream. I wish I could send you a quilt that I have made for your new home but don't know where to send it. You have so inspired me, I think about you often and wonder if your doing well. God bless you! If anyone knows how i could send her a gift lilsteff46807@gmail.com
Stephanie Stauffer , Monroeville, Indiana
30/01/2021 09:39
4
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You are the good salt of the earth...Praise the Lord... your story needs to be shared....God is so Great!
What a beautiful story and so sanctified and holy.....your wisdom is great and a big thank you for sharing it
Sandra Rust, Joliet IL USA
26/01/2021 01:02
2
1
God bless Agafia well loved by many now, from about the world. The hardships you have suffered bring tears to my eyes. I wonder sometimes at what you might think of some of the presents people send you, though they do so in kind.hearted thoughts. Please consider allowing some photos Agafia of one or two of your treasure d old items - if not done so already - not any gifts,. those old items are a part of you. I hope you will allow us more live video of yourself and talk, since I have been left wondering how you are. You look very much healthier and happier for the kindness poured out to you, keep smiling. God bless Agafia. (When will there be a documentary released?)
Wren, Australia
17/01/2021 04:55
2
1
If we don't meet in this life, we gonna meet in the next destination, our eternal home..
Samuel, Kenya
10/01/2021 21:16
3
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Such a humble beautiful being of God. Your faith and trust in God Almighty is such an inspiration to all humanity. Such a strong beautiful person God surely is looking after you. He has sent you help to lessen your burdens your reward for such faith .
Dest, Australia
01/01/2021 12:49
4
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Living saint
Vijaya Chandra, India
16/12/2020 23:26
2
1
I am very much affectionate to you mother..I love your smile,life..and much more.I wish that I could see you..when I become a grown up!
Shilpa Remesh, India
30/11/2020 22:24
2
2
I certainly admire the courage, strength and religion of Agafia. God is most certainly with her. May he keep on keeping her safe. Please update information on her as I am so interested in her ability to survive by herself and not to be blinded by the wants of the human beings that we are. Good luck to Agafia and long health.
Jean Howard, Benton, Arkansas
10/08/2020 02:15
7
1
Dear Agafia

Your story inspires me. I wish I could afford to come to Russia someday to visit you. I always pray to go to keep you safe and healthy.

You always in my thoughts
Nthabeleng Phokojoe, South Africa
27/07/2020 08:48
8
1
Dearest Agafia,

Your story inspires me. Your simple faith in our Lord Jesus Christ is a precious gift to the world.

Thank you for sharing with those who found you and allowing the outside world to consider a different way of life. Living simply is a gift.

God bless you and keep you.
Janine, United States
19/07/2020 07:36
3
2
Who could not be humbled and inspired by her story? In her simple innocence she has truly been a child of God. Most of us couldn't live as she lives for more than a few days, and it's all she s ever known. God bless you dear sweet lady....your piety is an inspiration to all and your story is known throughout the world.
James, Stockbridge georgia
18/07/2020 10:37
2
2
Dearest Agafia,
I hope your well. Your life is so inspiring to me and I periodically look to see if your ok.
I wish I could visit you one day.
Much Love to you
Brenda , Texas, United States
07/07/2020 09:22
5
3
Dear Agafia, How are you doing, I was searching maybe I can get a new update of your situation. I watched again and again your videos because its inspiring me to hold on to God and His Word. Living a simple life in this materialistic world. I am amazed how you manage your life alone in spite that now your advance in age. Indeed, you serve God faithfully in your simple way. I thank God for your life, truly you are a living testimony of God's mercy and grace. We will meet in the next life Agafia, no more pain, no more sorrows no more lonely night. God bless you beloved sister in the Lord.
Hilda Lucero, Philippines
25/06/2020 00:48
12
3
Agafya tiene una energía envidiable !! Desde que conocí su historia siempre trato de ver por Internet alguna noticia nueva sobre ella!! Felicitaciones a todos los que se ocupan de ella!! es una lección de humanidad!
Marcela Salcedo, Argentina
21/06/2020 07:59
1
3

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