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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)

Any new update?
Sid, Bangalore, India
18/09/2017 06:42
I wish I could also go and see how she survived along in the lone world, it is obvious she knew God and all
The days of her life God Almighty has been with her. That's what faith can do.. praise God!!
ikaho achumi, Dimapur,Nagaland/india
08/09/2017 22:07
Marica Cavu, Fiji
30/06/2017 11:47
5/28/17. I just think Agafia knew God, practiced her faith thoroughly, reading, while working in the outdoors cold hauling in her daily chores.. who can do that with willing dedication? She was a role model of detachment from earthly things, had a mind set of loving kindness too. I'm relooking at my own life again, because of her examples of serving, generosity to a hard hearted fraudulent, letting God be the judge of him. She prayed her way through all, as thee example Jesus taught. Agafia persevered with love of God. Agafia looks splendly radiant with no make up, as a true joyful giver with a heart after God.
Anonymous, Oregon
28/05/2017 17:18
that would be a purest experiences someone can have in life ,
i'll visit her as soon as i can .
Ali goli, Dezful , Khozestan ,Iran
25/04/2017 08:11
I just recently came upon Agafia's you tube interviews and have been mesmerized with this sweet, wonderful woman. I do not believe after watching several though that it was Sedof who took care of her, but the other way around. Also according to Agafia he did not do much she cut the wood, she got his food. Plus the fact that he preyed on her,, frightening and making her very uncomfortable with his sexual advances. I hope to mee Agafia in heaven when I go as I know we both will be there. I am 6 years older than her and will probably get there first. May God bless his mighty saint on earth.
Patrice, Merrimack, New Hampshire
10/04/2017 07:59
Is she dead ?
mterry, usa
07/04/2017 03:36
I was watching a German movie "The Walll: on youtube later I searched any movie related to the same movie and I found RT documentary about Agafya. Her life is little bit similar to the movie. Since that I can't stop myself searching about her. Every stories about her on youtube I have watched even though I don't understand the languages. I really admire Agafya so much she give me inspiration not to give up in life. I also love the view of the place she is staying. May the only one God bless and have mercy on her and grant her paradise in hereafter.
Razimah Amran, Malaysia
28/02/2017 21:14
I always felt like he burdened her, more than helped her. He deliberately preyed upon her, both with her faith (to take care of him due to his handicap) and physically (the implied sexual assaults). He knew being in the middle of nowhere, there would be no one to help her or stop him. Good riddance. She was a much better woman than I would have been. ANY companionship was better than his.
Say What?, USA
24/01/2017 02:36
Before she went to the hospital for the last time, she did an interview at her homestead. It was she that was taking care of him, not as stated in this article. And she described his advances (2 times over the years) that almost destroyed her faith. But later felt that she had been cleansed through her prayers. Unfortunately, she returned from the hospital to die at her home. What a harsh life.
Mary Stein, Wasilla, USA
20/01/2017 05:12
It was actually Agafya who was taking care of him later on, than the other way around (although he helps her.) She gives him fish, potatoes, etc. to help him. They used to hunt deer together and help fix her hunting gun. He has a communication radio which he uses to communicate with the park rangers. They also listen to the radio so they know what's going on in the outside world. One ranger suspects that radiation from fallen Russian rocket launch debris caused Agafya's tumour although that was just conjecture. She is a strong woman with an equally strong spirit. She is a very admirable woman.
Katherine Wilshire, Colorado, USA
07/01/2017 01:04
I pray there is somebody honest and sincere out there who will be inspired to go to Agafia and give her much needed help and stay with her offering companionship, sharing in the fath.
God bless
Thank you for reading
Mary Paxton, Honey Grove, Pennsylvania, USA
31/12/2016 11:34
Makes me think that all the material possessions means nothing... the world was lent to us for a short time... appreciate it... be kind to others and love yourself unconditionally
Amanda, Barbados
19/12/2016 08:26
Is there a way to get rid of that horrendous tumour on her breast? I hear that it is benign.
Marion K, Canada
18/12/2016 08:14
The best thing we could do to help Agafia is pray for her. Every day in the memento vivi we must remember to Christ the soul and fate of Agafia.
Mauro, Bologna - Italy
06/11/2016 13:22

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