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Friend to reclusive hermit dies leaving Old Believer all alone again in taiga

By Anna Liesowska
25 May 2015

Geologist who built ramshackle hut 100 metres from Agafya Lykova passes away and is buried near the last place he called home.

Yerofei Sedov was considered Agafya's only neighbour deep in the forest about 500 metres up the Abakan Range, in south-western Siberia. Picture: Denis Mukimov/

A geologist who lived a reclusive life in a hut beside the famous Siberian hermit Agafya Lykova has died, leaving the woman alone in the taiga. Yerofei Sedov was considered her only neighbour deep in the forest about 500 metres up the Abakan Range, in south-western Siberia.

Over the years he looked out for 71-year-old Agafya, the sole survivor of a family of Old Believers that had cut themselves off from civilisation for decades.

'My father died in his 77th year of life, as he wanted to on the Yerinat River,' said Sedov’s son Nikolay. 'All this happened on May 3 but I don't know any details. Some tourists came to Agafya’s residence and then called me when they came back.

'I can't say what happened but my father was a rather old man. Agafia buried him. She did the right thing. He died but it was rather warm weather so I’m sure she didn’t have to wait until someone arrived to take his body. I'm grateful for that, since now he will forever be on his treasured Yerinat. As soon as possible I will fly to his grave, though when that will be is hard to say.'

Sedov's death was also confirmed by researchers working nearby checking soil and water samples following a rocket launch from the cosmodrome at Baikonur.

Erofey Sedov

Sedov’s friendship with the hermit goes back many years. He had worked as a master driller in the geological expedition that found the Lykov family deep in the forest in the late 1970s. Picture:  Denis Mukimov/

Officials from the Khakassky State Nature Reserve have gone to Agafya's hut to find out more about the circumstances of the death, and police will visit the site too. Once they have arrived at the remote location, more details are likely to emerge.

Sedov’s friendship with the hermit goes back many years. He had worked as a master driller in the geological expedition that found the Lykov family deep in the forest in the late 1970s.

At one point he saved her late father from certain death when, having not heard from the Lykovs for a long time, he visited them and found him seriously ill. Exhausted and almost unconscious they were given food, hot tea and shelter. From then on he has felt a strong kinship with the family, and Agafya in particular after her father eventually died in 1988.

About 18 years ago he lost a leg after a severely frostbitten toe was not treated properly. After that, doctors advised him to spend more time in the open air so he moved to the Yerinat River beside Agafya and built himself a hut 100 metres from her ramshackle home.

He did go and see his family from time to time, but he always returned to the taiga isolation. His son, Nikolay, came to visit him in April, just a few weeks before he died. 

'It was Holy Week,' recalled Nikolay. 'My father looked very tired. He and Agafya were fasting, but he was not sick. We didn’t talk about anything special, just our everyday lives.'

Erofey Sedov and Agafya Lykova

Erofey Sedov and Agafya Lykova

Over the years Yerofey Sedov looked out for 71-year-old Agafya, the sole survivor of a family of Old Believers that had cut themselves off from civilisation for decades. Picture: Kemerovo region press service

In a rare interview in December last year Agafya said that her neighbour had been suffering from an illness, and she had asked him to stay away, fearing she would catch it. She said: 'He was coughing and coughing and I got scared. For me it’s case of if you cough, get away from here.'

The Lykovs were members of a fundamentalist Russian orthodox sect that had been persecuted since the days of Peter the Great in the 18th century, and 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. 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.

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

Comments (85)

I wish she will live longer and stay healthy. God Bless her. I wish I could help her in any way but the distance between us is very far. The only thing that I can help her is to pray the she will live longer and stay healthy. May God help her.

Love Nurnidal,
Nurnidal, Zamboanga City, Philippines
29/03/2020 21:42
This way if living has inspired me for years as my family is deep rooted from another country. I live with 17 million neighbors and know no names. Maybe if more can be inspired by a kind word or small Kind deed can go so far. If time will tell there future will bring us back to nature upon which we have oppertunity to live in peace. Maybe one day I will never leave big city. Maybe there can be movie about the ladys life. This was by choice and family traditions. I would only hope that family learn to take care of each other at all costs and show commitments to take care of elderly. To me was sad to see such isolation from a world of beautiful people that you can learn from depend on and worship in church together and not alone.
Salsita Mari, San Francisco
28/03/2020 08:07
I could see the blessings and the light of purity in her beautiful smile. She is the definition of a Saint or Angel. The inspiration and hope she gives to people and without even trying just by being herself is unbelievable. Pure focus and unshakable belief. I also think she was the best thing that ever happened to Yerofey. Unfortunately he kept a grudge and spread slanderous lies about her and her family. I was most impressed how forgiving Agafia was how godly she was continuing to bring him water and food despite all the bad deeds he did and how he treated her. I will pray for you Agafia. I do not want you to leave the life you love. The world knows you now and I feel in my heart you will never be without food or supplies. What really breaks my heart is that there will be no one there to care for you comfort you when the time comes. However I am sure the love you have in your heart for the god and everything else he created will comfort you forever in this world and after...
Hasan H Sonmezturk, Nashville TN USA
13/03/2020 09:34
He looked out for her ? I doubt that !
She's lived in the wilderness all her life..if he was lucky, she gave him advice.
k. Ins, attleboro MA
23/02/2020 03:40
Wish someone could live there with here and help she is so great
Tom, Ireland
20/02/2020 03:38
Praying for your long life agafia so you may continue to serve us as our inspiration.
Eleanor A., Philippines
08/02/2020 10:36
I thank God for your being the good person that you are Agafia.Pray that God grants you a very long life so you may continue to inspire many people with your life.
Eleanor A., Philippines
08/02/2020 09:17
May the grace and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ be with you dear Agafya. May God give you health and comfort by His Spirit every day. Your life is a beautiful example a simple and holy walk with the Lord for all believers.
Francois, Quebec, canada
04/02/2020 18:39
The old guy black mailed her into letting him live with her. Her words. I wish i could help this beautiful lady.
craig gardner, United States
03/02/2020 07:02
RIP Yerofey. I hope our dear Agafia is not too lonely.
Andrew Hanwright, Eureka, California
26/01/2020 15:10
Agafia, I wish I could understand your language and read what is written on some of the UTube posts. I think you are amazing to live your life in prayer and solitude. I hope someone will write a book about your life so that it may be told to next generations, so they will come to know of your bravery and faithfulness. Bless You
Cathy Yeater, Richburg South Carolina United States
23/12/2019 11:18
A great lady a true symbol of survival. Hope she will live for many years with good health.
Siva, India
22/12/2019 19:21
How wonderful it is to have such an amazing woman - l will pray for you to keep your strength & continue your survival - l always watch your videos & l pray to god he keeps you strong - l sincerely wish god will always keep you safe - god bless you always
G P, Australia
10/11/2019 13:50
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for blessing this earth with this angel of whom we have come to know as Agafya. Thank you for the people who have been blessed with the opportunity to be in the presence of this most blessed and untarnished soul. With all the damages we have brought upon our earth and ourselves we are not deserving but through your grace have been given an example of a true believer in christian values and faith.

With all my love.

Sherry Day, Manhattan Kansas USA
22/09/2019 05:02
Agafia I love your life story.I watch the videos of you.May God bless and keep you
Bessie, Saltville va
28/08/2019 08:21

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