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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:

'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 (58)

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
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
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 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
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
Agafia god be with you always..lots of love
Celine, Philippine
23/07/2018 22:53
I am also sending prayers and blessings for dear Agafia from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA.
Laura Caligiuri, Pittsburgh USA
17/06/2018 03:32
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
Dear Agafia. I have found a zest for your stories and faithfulness to God and the meaning that all represents. I am thankful to the Govenor who is so very thoughtful to help you with the medical care and supplies of staple goods. I so loved your thoughtfulness of the mittens that you gave to him. I know that his hands and fingers will be so warm. Somehow I feel close to how you are feeling when you long to be with your animals and home. Home is where the heart is. I wish you good health and love. So glad that you are feeling better. I love your simplicity and so thankful for souls like you on this earth. It must be so quiet where you live

If there was a way to send you a letter or a gift. I would be so grateful to find this way to get it to you. If anyone who reads this knows. Please let me know by email Thinking of you and many blessings..your friend, Lucy

Lucy, USA, Montana
01/03/2018 10:29
I made my 6 children watch the RT video about Agyafa. Amazing story of courage and faith. I know what winter is like, it was -37 here last week.
Dave, Redwater, Alberta Canada
10/01/2018 07:47
Is their any updates on Agafia? It’s January 2018 and I wanted to know how she is holding up. Praying for you Agafia ✝️
Tina, America
10/01/2018 06:00
How is her health? I have not heard much this last year. I pray she is well...
Sue, Denver USA
14/08/2017 04:27
May GOD continue to Bless you.
What a remarkable life story you have shared.
Thank you Agafya.
Rustianne Dean Sucholotiuk wilson, Arcadia Florida USA
31/07/2017 08:43
May God Bless you always Agafia......
Joan Tuminez, Cotabato City, Philippines
30/07/2017 23:30

Dear Agafya, I am so inspired by your story and faithful Christianity I feel I will never be the same again! I prayed for you last night and will continue to mention you in my prayers daily Agafya. I am happy to hear God has sent you a helper. Thanks to the kind people who have helped you. May God bless them too for doing so.
Sue Cavenagh, Gilroy, California U.S.A.
18/07/2017 23:18
A really child of GOD.
servando, USA-MEXICO
11/07/2017 01:24

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