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Emergency services arrive to save life of hermit Agafiya Lykova, Russia's loneliest woman

By The Siberian Times reporter
23 January 2014

Aged 68, she has never seen a town - and refused a helicopter ride to hospital.

The helicopter brought fresh food, medicine and household items, and a doctor examined her but the woman - a devout Old Believer - refused his offer to be flown to hospital for treatment. Picture: Republic of Khakassia emergency ministry

Agafya is the last survivor of a family who fled deep into the Siberian taiga in the Stalin era, and remained undetected for more than 40 years. She was born in the small ramshackle homestead - more than 100 km from the nearest village - built by her father and she knows no other life. She now lives here alone in an area where winter temperatures can sink to minus 40C. 

Last week the recluse warned in a letter to a newspaper that her health was failing and she did not have enough logs for the winter. 

'I don't know how God will help me survive the winter. There aren't any logs. I need to get them into the house', she warned. 

After her plea, a helicopter with a doctor on board was sent to check the deeply religious hermit - and to bring her vital supplies. Meanwhile, a well-known Russian millionaire has offered to pay the salary of a helper to live with Agafya in her lonely vigil. German Sterligov, one of the first dollar millionaires as the Soviet Union collapsed, has promised a 40,000 rouble a month salary to a companion who will live with Agafya in the remotest house in Russia.

Emergency services arrive to save life of hermit Agafiya Lykova, Russia's loneliest woman


Emergency services arrive to save life of hermit Agafiya Lykova, Russia's loneliest woman


Emergency services arrive to save life of hermit Agafiya Lykova, Russia's loneliest woman


Emergency services arrive to save life of hermit Agafiya Lykova, Russia's loneliest woman


Emergency services arrive to save life of hermit Agafiya Lykova, Russia's loneliest woman

Agafya is traditionally cautious about unknown people but this time she was very friendly with the rescuers and the doctor. Pictures: Republic of Khakassia emergency ministry

The helicopter brought fresh food, medicine and household items, and a doctor examined her but the woman - a devout Old Believer - refused his offer to be flown to hospital for treatment. The mercy mission was ordered by governor Viktor Zimin.

'Nature reserve staff gathered food and other goods for Agafya,' said a statement from the Emergencies Ministry in Khakassia, the Siberian republic where she lives. 'They brought cereals and flour for her and cabbage and food for her goats. They also brought vegetables for planting, and in a month Agafya will start growing them at home.'

The team 'carried logs from the forest closer to Agafya's house. The logs were cut but it was hard for her to carry them every day.'

'The doctor examined Agafiya and offered to take her to hospital for treatment. The 68 year old woman complained of headaches and other problems and needs detailed examination. But she absolutely refused to go. The doctor gave her some advice and left medicine.

'Agafya is traditionally cautious about unknown people but this time she was very friendly with the rescuers and the doctor. She said that the winter was warm this year but the coming of spring scares her. Her health is poor now and she does not have enough strength (to plant her crops). She was very grateful for all help and smiled all the time'.

She was supplied with salted cabbage and a bag with dried fruit, flour, sugar, candles, matches. 

Emergency services arrive to save life of hermit Agafiya Lykova, Russia's loneliest woman


Emergency services arrive to save life of hermit Agafiya Lykova, Russia's loneliest woman


Emergency services arrive to save life of hermit Agafiya Lykova, Russia's loneliest woman

Agafya is the last survivor of a family who fled deep into the Siberian taiga in the Stalin era, and remained undetected for more than 40 years. Pictures: Republic of Khakassia emergency ministry

Millet and oats were sent for Agafya's chickens, also hay for her goats. They brought water and filled all the containers in her house. Her goats have not provided milk this winter and another flight from neighbouring Kemerovo will bring her frozen milk.

Agafya is an Old Believer a religious movement that splintered from the Russian Orthodox Church in the 17th century, endured persecution both before and after the Bolshevik Revolution. She 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.

The Lykovs subsided mainly on trapped wild animals and cultivated potatoes. They had no firearms, no salt and did not know how to make bread.

Comments (6)

How's Agafia going? Is she still alive? I hope someone went to give her some assistance - and company.
Lydia, Australia
26/02/2018 13:49
3
0
Hello! Is anyone interested in getting there and helping out for a while? I am planning my trip to Agafia and it would be nice to have a travel companion. Anyone who is interested, contact me via E-Mail. richynatorzero@gmail.com
Richard, Germany
15/11/2017 16:36
3
1
Is Agafia still ok? I would hope that a rural Old Believer community would take her in. She doesn't deserve to be left out there to die alone.
Her faith put tears into my eyes. The reporters I don't think really captured the real Agafia and who her father and mother ran from.
I just wish she would have the surgery to remove the tumor and be accepted into the lives of an old believer community....with all her books and cats for company.
Jason, Camrose . CANADA
08/05/2017 15:18
2
0
Here is a personal letter of invitation from Agafia, with an email contact
http://rtd.rt.com/info/agafias-letter/
bro strannik, stranniki.blogspot.com
05/10/2014 03:49
7
1
I am happy to go and help out. I speak some Russian, know about planting crops, cooking with limited supplies and looking after animals. I have volunteered some time ago and spent 2 months in Karakalpakstan working alongside a doctor. What an experience!
Giulia, Australia
25/01/2014 10:06
9
0
Hi. I would like to know how can I get in contact with the governor of Kemerovo or Khakassia, I wouldnt mind to go and give a hand to Agafya.
B Martinez, Spain
24/01/2014 18:48
6
1
1

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