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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 (79)

I thought maybe I could go there and help
I'm polish /British citizen
Please for advice
Roman sepiol, Edinburgh
24/04/2019 15:26
I read her story and watched all the videos . What a remarkable woman ...?. Her faith and strong believe in God has helped her to survive from all the challenges and hardship all these years ... we can learn a lot from her ... having strong faith regardless of what religions will help you and guid you on how to deal with any diffucalties or hardships...Agafia - I will pray for you and ask God to watch over you .....OX
Sul .S , San Diego Ca
28/02/2019 13:11
An amazing woman who has lived an amazing life. I hope God grants her all the wishes that heaven will allow.

Godspeed Agafya Lykova and you too Yerofei Sedov, I don't think this world will see the likes of either of these two special creatures again.
Gary Smith, Tacoma, WA
13/01/2019 18:50
Such an amazing woman and story. God is great in so many ways. I wish I had the strength and faith as much as she does. I’m half her age and feeling lost sometimes in the modern societies. After watching her stories and strong beliefs I truly admire her. I know you wish for help with your chores and I would love to experience the life you have. If this is all possible how can this become a reality ? I’m up for this journey of a life time.

This is my email


God bless
Allan Gancena, Canada, Ontario
11/12/2018 19:57
I will see her one day. And she will have a new heavenly body with no more suffering. I have watched and read about this woman and I think to myself, what a modern day hand maiden of God, with such faith in our Lord. Her purpose on earth is much more then she will ever know. I know God is with her all her days of her life.
Dee, Montana, USA
27/11/2018 22:32
We have much to learn from the way Agafia lives her life. May her wishes for someone to help her with her chores come true.
Linda, Boynton Beach, Florida, USA
21/11/2018 11:49
Agafia is such an amazing human being with so much strength, knowledge and confidence in life. She is truly an inspiration for anyone down on their luck.

It's wonderful to see that someone cared to film parts of her life and her story. Hopefully someone will come forward and grant her wish for help while she needs it badly before she dies.
Chantal, Victoria, Canada
20/11/2018 12:57
I watched the videos and read the articles of her story and life. A kind soul who is living her life around hers and hers family's ethics, values and beliefs. And in a place that is raw, beautful and a constant challange. I am glad i found her story, as it has added a further positive to my own life and outlook. Thank you for making this information available.
David McVay, Wellington NZ
07/11/2018 19:54
I do hope Agafia and her very well taken care of animals are in a good way, safe and being cared for. Watching her care for her house and farm is very impressive. May God bless and keep them all. She’s succeeded in living on her own terms and faith and has hurt no one in her life at all. Not many people on this planet can say this, quite frankly.
Laura Davidson, Los Angeles, California
30/10/2018 03:51
Agafya Lykova is a devoted woman of God who is to be admired and honored for genuinely clutching to her core beliefs and is an example of strength to those who have oppressed her and her families and other families who have suffered oppression of one kind or another. God Bless her always.
Donna Kutylowski, Dearborn, Michigan USA
09/10/2018 06:40
7 October 2018

Is Agafia still living? I know God is with her where ever she my be.
Ken. e-mail., USA
08/10/2018 09:13
I wish I could tell Agafia what a blessing and encouragement she has been to me. I am a widow living alone, which is almost ridiculous to say when I read her story. When I feel sad and alone I think of her. I tell myself, "if Agafia, can do it, so can I." The joy and contentment on her face is an inspiration to me -it is not the reflection of someone living in isolation.. That Book has given her life
Edie Heyn, Canada
30/09/2018 13:10
So sad that Agafia is going to die alone, and no one will know until the next expedition to her homestead. She is one truly amazing woman. May God look after her.
jan, London
31/08/2018 01:51
I wish I was able to help her.
Catherine Segovia, United States
21/08/2018 14:21
Such an interesting story. I wish I could go stay with her but I am only 8 years younger and a disease where I cannot take cold at all. If you ever have these read to you Agafia my best wishes for you to stay there till Heaven. I had a huge tumor removed in 2008 ....fist sized in my brain. Just had CAT and no sign of it being back. I wish I could get her tumor removed. It sure helps. I would of gone but my kids wouldn't have appreciated it either. They are 39 and 42 but they still need Mom.
Suzy Hager, Oregon
03/07/2018 15:12

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