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'That time Barnaul was undoubtedly the most cultural corner of Siberia. I named it Siberian Athens'
Pyotr Tyan-Shanskiy, 1856

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)

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
I believe that both Agafia and Sedov both helped one another to survive regardless of the quarrels they may have had. Their spirit resonates that they still had normal emotions and were not lost withon this vast wilderness of isolation. Such an inspiring storu. It takes me back to the many stories of my own ancestors when they came to the Umited States and lived alone way out on the praries and worked, lived, loved one another and thanked God for all that he has given. I am glad that Agafia laid Sedov to rest in a peaceful place mear his home. I would love to help her but I could never stand the awful amount of ticks that exist in that country.! But what beautiful country where you live! God Bless you and your new helper!
Lucy, USA, Montana
01/03/2018 09:48
Agafia is Jesus Christ's example of living charity, without which, we are nothing. God Bless You, wonderful woman.
Bonnie, USA
26/02/2018 13:28
Such a beautiful spirit she has. So sad to hear she is really alone now. Surely, someone can go help her and give her company.
Julie Wiegel, Sacramento,CA USA
10/01/2018 09:25
It is clear from the VICE documentary about them that Agafya was the one looking out for Yerofei.
Marcelo, Brasil
09/01/2018 09:11
If possible I would go to help agafia do the work to help her live in the taiga I have no money for the journey it would have to be provided by god through donations
Paul Templeton, Keyes can.usa
31/12/2017 21:52
God bless you hope the you the best that life that life has to give you wish I could come and help you throuthe rist of your life and mine I am 69 years old now but I would to be able to come to you but that impossible I am a half a world away but I am thinking of you god bless you .
harold hammonds, jamestown tennessee usa 2/16/2016 /8;48 pm.
18/12/2017 11:05
I would like to write to her. Well wishes.
Let her know she is not alone in the world.
It would be nice to have a friend, even if a world apart.
Michael, Niles, Michigan USA
28/11/2017 13:43
Fantastic story! I am so sad she is alone. Wish someone would go live nearby and help her. God bless you, Agafia!
Maria, USA
25/11/2017 19:57
What is the latest bews of Agafia, is she well? She is a unique good person. Is she being taken care of now that she is in her mid 70's
Janet Mortimer , Sydney Australia
04/11/2017 19:51

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