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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 watched an RT documentary about Agafia. She stated that she really needed a helper and even if they were not Old Believers, she could help teach them about the religion. I state this as several commenter expressed an interest in helping her or wanting to live as she does. To Viszoc who thinks Agafia lives without the effects of radiation: She has a huge tumor which keeps her from being able to harvest/mow.
Suzanne, United States
21/07/2016 01:36
I would go to twigs to help agafia she really needs some help out there at 80 years old hauling wood n water managing a garden to much for one person
paul DeAngelo, bayville nj. usa
07/04/2016 01:56
May The Siberian Times continue to keep us updated on such an extraordinary and inspirational story of Agafya. I often think of her and wonder how she is doing. She is the epitome of strength, character, faith and hope. She has shown what true contentment is.
Wanda Bradford, Fredericksburg VA
12/03/2016 08:08
A most incredible insight into the human spirit and its ability to provide the strength of endurance to both Yerofy Sedov and Agafy Lykovs to live the life they followed. Extremely moving.
Colin Wilson, Saltcoats, Scotland. 25/2/2016
28/02/2016 13:06
I also would like a life like that if i would so strong to stand those circumstances/environment and cold.

No radiation, no pollution, no news, no brainwash. Yes books, learning, and meditation.
Viszoc, BP., Hungary
21/01/2016 18:34
A hard but wonderful life to lead. I can certainly see why Mr. Sedov (may he be blessed with peaceful rest) would want to join Ms. Lykova. I hope she is never encroached upon. I'd very much welcome such a tranquil lifestyle - as long as I had access to books, mainly non-fiction.

I wondered if Mr. Sedov may have been related to Lev Bronshtein (AKA Leon Trotsky) because Trotsky's second wife was surnamed Sedova. Although almost every member of Trotsky's family were murdered, owing to their association with Trotsky, I wonder if members of Natalya's family were also persecuted?

Does anybody know?
DieselEstate, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
26/11/2015 04:31
I saw the documentary for a year ago on RT, amazing story, sad to hear he left, rest in peace old man.
friendly neighbour, Finland
27/10/2015 12:06
The most incredible story of a Father's love for his Wife and family, removing them to safety far away from a brutal regime, thereafter enduring 42 years of extreme cold and hunger, but their strong faith kept them going. So sad to see the children died within a few years of having made contact with the outside world, a contact they did not instigate themselves. Only Agafia remains, strong in her faith and belief that God will look after her. She radiates sincerity and a goodness and simplicity in each word she speaks. May God Bless her and keep her strong.
Eileen Taylor, Dunboyne, Co. Meath. Ireland.
11/09/2015 01:24
R.i.p erofey, and my prayers go out to agafia. May god bless her for being faithful.
freddy, uk
09/09/2015 01:31
Sad news. May he rest in peace!
E. Espinosa, Edmonton, Alberta Canada
25/05/2015 20:43

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