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A. J. Haywood

Back to the wilderness for remarkable hermit Agafya Lykova after hospital treatment

By The Siberian Times reporter
20 January 2016

Aged 71, she shuns civilisation and accepts a helicopter ride back to her home in remote Siberia, without a gun to protect her from bears.

Agafya Lykova met with Kemerovo region governor Aman Tuleev. Picture: Administration of Kemerovo region

Cured of leg pains, the indefatigable Agafya, her fame now stretching around the world, on Wednesday flew back to the place she calls home, where she was born during the Second World War into a family of Old Believers who had fled Soviet repression to live in the forest.

The previous week, she had been rushed to hospital after complaining of acute discomfort in her remote farmstead - more than 100 kilometres from the nearest village. 

Hardly ever in her life had she left this home in the wilderness, where her family - all now dead - had sought sanctuary from religious persecution.

But after treatment at Tashtagol hospital in Kemerovo region, she opted to return to the mountainside above the Yerinat River - where she is under threat from wolves and bears, and also winter cold which she has described as 'unbearable'.

Her recent stay in hospital reported by The Siberian Times led to stories around the world. But now our picture shows the reclusive woman on her way back home, on a helicopter provided by Aman Tuleyev, governor of Kemerovo region. 

Agafya Lykova in hospital


Agafya Lykova in hospital

The previous week, she had been rushed to hospital after complaining of acute discomfort in her remote farmstead. Pictures: Efir-T

She is concerned for her chickens and goats, and also for an Old Believer called Georgy who has come to live with her to help her in her lonely vigil.

Before leaving, she presented the governor with mittens made of goat wool. But she rejected his suggestions that she should stay in hospital for a month to better improve her health. 'No way, no way, I worry about my household, and Georgy. I need to rush there.' 

The governor asked if Georgy had a gun to protect her from a bear, but she would not hear of it. 'Well, think it's quite dangerous to give him a gun,' she said. In the summer a bear dug into the grave of her dead neighbour Yerofei, she said. 

For most of her life, she has lived like a peasant from the 19th century with hardly any modern comforts. But the governor handed her a warm scarf and jacket, and has ensured she has supplies of medicine, new porcelain, a chainsaw, wheat, rice and barley), as well as flour, sugar, and feed for her animals. 

Agafya Lykova


Agafya Lykova


Agafya Lykova

Before leaving, she presented the governor with mittens made of goat wool. Pictures: Vesti.ru

'Great Agafya, you are as beautiful as ever, so I wish you good health,' said the governor. She offered him her 'great appreciation' for helping her. She told journalists before leaving: 'I feel better.' She could now 'at least stand on my legs'.

Her family fled into the wilderness in 1936 and when they were discovered living off the land after being spotted from the air in the 1970s, they had no idea World War Two had started - or ended. 

Her little plot is located close to a river about some 150 metres up a remote mountain side in the Abakan Range, in south-western Siberia. She 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.

It was in the summer of 1978 that a group of geologists accidentally stumbled across the family, with scientists reporting that Agafya spoke a strange blurred language 'distorted by a lifetime of isolation'.

Reclusive Siberian hermit Agafia Lykov comes out of isolation to say Happy New Year

For most of her life, she has lived like a peasant from the 19th century with hardly any modern comforts. Picture: Alexander Kuznetsov/Krasnoyarsky Rabochiy

Her father had taken the decision to flee normal civilisation in 1936 after a communist patrol arrived at the fields on which he was working and shot dead his brother. Gathering a few meagre possessions and some seeds, he took his wife, Akulina, their nine-year-old son, Savin, and two-year-old daughter Natalia, and headed off into the forest.

Over the years they retreated deeper into taiga, building a series of wooden cabins amid the pine trees. When their metal pots had disintegrated beyond use, they were forced to live on a staple diet of potato patties mixed with ground rye and hemp seeds. The Lykovs subsided mainly on trapped wild animals and cultivated potatoes. They had no firearms, no salt and did not know how to make bread.

Reclusive Siberian hermit Agafia Lykov comes out of isolation to say Happy New Year


Agafya Lykova, pictures by Igor Shpilenok


Reclusive Siberian hermit Agafia Lykov comes out of isolation to say Happy New Year

Over the years they retreated deeper into taiga, building a series of wooden cabins amid the pine trees. Pictures: Igor Nazarov, Igor Shpilenok, Vladimir Makuta

However a bad winter in 1961 killed off everything in their garden and they were reduced to eating their own leather shoes. The cold weather, and lack of food, tragically proved too much for Akulina who died.

Once the family was discovered they continued to live in the wilderness and, apart from salt, knives, forks and handles, they opted not to adopt any methods or items from the modern world.

Sadly just two years later three of the four children also died: Savin and Natalia suffered kidney failure and Dmitry died of pneumonia. Agafya's father died in his sleep in February 1988, but despite her age and the risks to her health she continues to live permanently at the little homestead.

Comments (51)

God bless and good health to Agafia
Nathan Donovan, Canada
04/04/2019 06:13
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I am suprised that Agafya did not become seriously ill leaving her homestead and being treated in the hospital. She lived in isolation most of her life and her immune system would be garbage against even a cold or flu.
Jennifer, USA
20/02/2019 17:27
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Dearest Agafia, through you I have rediscovered my faith. I love you in a very special way. You are pure of heart and so selfless. As I watch you, I smile as you smile. But, upon leaving uou, I cry. I know God protects you but, I also feel very protective of you. I will pray with all of my heart, that you live pain-free and in peace. God Bless you, sweet Agafia. ❤
Vicki, Reisterstown, Maryland. United States of America
03/01/2019 01:40
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There are no words to express how much Agafia has touched me - GOD bless you Agafia and keep you close to HIS Heart - you are so sweet, such a beautiful soul that inspires us all -how can we help you? where can we send money or supplies or whatever you might need/
Ninni V. Genovese, notaryninni@gmail.com
20/12/2018 10:15
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our family has been following Agafia's story for awhile and we are so very touched by her strength, her resilience, but most importantly by her faith - GOD bless you Agafia; we don't know whether you'll ever be able to get the messages sent to you from all over the world, but surely your Guardian Angel does know and somehow may you learn that there are many people praying for you and cheering you on to live as you choose; in peace, surrounded by the beauty you have known since your birth, and when The Good GOD calls you Home, may you be laid to rest with your beloved family -
Rickie A Lemus, Santa Barbara, California
20/12/2018 09:59
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Bless you Agafia you are an amazing, wonderful, lady. You are an inspiration to us.
Cheryl, Tacoma
24/10/2018 09:24
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She's beautiful!!
Marlene Tobin, Canada Newfoundland...
12/10/2018 10:59
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Agafia you should be eligible for the elderly pension you are over sixty five I would get someone to help you fill out the forms so you can get it it could help you with everyday expenses even if you are living way up there you still should be able to get it praying for you everyday
Lavinia Pomare new zealand, new zealand
03/10/2018 00:13
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May Almighty Allah (God) bless you and keep you safe. You are a true believer. I love you. I am inspired by your pure heart and soul. You true story made me happy .
Razia Sultana, Chittagong, Bangladesh. South Asia.
02/10/2018 22:53
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My prayers go to you agifa listened to your life story its amazing how you survived out there in the wilderness I'm praying that god looks after you and protects you every day up there and also for Georgy and all your animals I know god answers prayer he's done it in my life so god bless you and will keep praying every day for you
Lavinia Pomare new zealand, new zealand
24/09/2018 01:05
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Agafya is a living saint, May God bless and protect her always keep her healthy, happy and looked after very good in Jesus mighty name Amen...so happy she found a helper for all her work out in the wilderness, it brought tears to my eyes thinking about her trying to cope on her own...Agafya please remember all of our prayer intentions in your prayers...Thanks...lots of love and prayers Emer.
Emer, West Ireland
05/09/2018 14:45
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Agafia is a gift to the world for these times - I believe that God has chosen her and protected her from the world of materialism and greed and sin for all those years - now we, who living in a world of sinful greed and materialism that leaves us all searching for more and more and never finding this PEACE which Agafia has , the priceless pearl of harmony between man and God and nature . She is a great sign for us all - her simplicity and her prayer life out of which flows a grace which is so attractive to us because our hearts are restless in a world that has turned against God - her prayers are helping us I would think and in my view she is a living Saint - thank you God for giving us Agafia and through the internet the world is learning from Agafia the true meaning of life ,
Rosarie, Ireland
15/08/2018 20:03
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Agafia god be with you always..lots of love
Celine, Philippine
23/07/2018 22:53
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I am also sending prayers and blessings for dear Agafia from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA.
Laura Caligiuri, Pittsburgh USA
17/06/2018 03:32
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I love you Agafia and am praying the Lord will take good care of you and bless you with health, comfort and peace. How can I write to you? Hugs to you, my Sister in Christ.
Wendy Walker, Minot, ND. USA
18/03/2018 01:12
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0

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