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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)

Greetings to you Agafya. So glad to see you have fully recovered from your illness and was able to return to your lifelong forest Home. Am so thankful for your true Christian Believer testimony as clearly seen in your daily life, attitude and countenance. Grateful that you have a willing helper, Georgy, to provide direct support in your daily chores. You, dear, are a total marvel and one special of His Children. As long as possible, I will follow your TRUE story on the internet, and share you with my little circle of loved ones. And too, a sincere thank you to Kemerovo Region Governor Aman Tuleev for your intervention and direct support, medical care, supplies and accompanying Agifya in return flight. Surely, all of us who have "found" this marvelous woman of strength and character through the "Net" are really appreciating the Siberian Times for its continued updates and sweet pictures. Thank you all for your care for Agafya.
Constance, West coast of North America
06/07/2017 10:55
I was inspired by your story Ms. Agafia a Christian like you..I give you the highest form of respect. You are absolutely amazing, the genuine child of God. A milion thanks to be hear your wonderful story
May our Almighty God guides you and bless you every second of your life. Jesus loves you Madame.
Weng Figueroa, Bulacan, Philippines
02/07/2017 12:03
Hi Agafia i have seen your video in you tube , i feel so sorry that i want to kelp you but in its not possible because we are so far , it is so sad that you got sickness, but hope all will be fine GOD is with you i know that you desperate need a helper dont worry god will send someone to look after you because you believe in God . From here all i can di is pray for you , GOD bless you and give you more strength to live more than 100 years , all the best in coming years and many more to come , AMEN .
Mahesh Datt Sharma, Born in Fiji Island
17/06/2017 22:32
God bless Agafia
R K, India
17/06/2017 21:36
I came to know abouy agafia while i was scanninh for some docu in youtube.

I was hooked by her story and i cried with her letter.

If only i am near her i would help but am miles away.the only thing i could do is to

Pray for her health and that alot of good soul will help her..
Tess, Philippines
15/06/2017 16:58
Dear Agafia,

Truly you love God with all your heart and all your mind and all your strength and your neighbor as yourself . You are an inspiration to all . Who does not love a heart so loving ? May the Divine assistance remain always with you. I will remember you in my prayers from now on .


John, United States
10/06/2017 09:32
I saw a video of her, it just broke my heart with her letter. I posted a comment that I am willing to go and help her as long as she needs me, my help for her is open, I just need someone to get me there. I read she found someone, but an extra pair of a young man will help even more. I am willing to give my life for this woman, and this is the most precious thing I have. This is my email if anyone want to contact me (put in the subject "Agafya") thank.... Mike.
Mike, US
22/05/2017 13:08
I wish I could meet her. She is a very strong old believer who is an inspiration. Let's not forget the reason they and others fled is due to religious persecution from Nikon. He wanted to change the Russian Orthodox religion and those that resisted were killed.
Mary, California/USA
02/05/2017 10:02
I hope Agafya is still alife, but I would prefer her to be in heaven with the beautiful Virgin seen inside her cabin, This is one of the most beautiful Icons I have ever see, probably harking back to the ancient Old Believers! I often look up her story in Siberia, looking for this Icon!
Bohdan Szejner, Kraków, Poland
21/03/2017 19:54
Yes, Agafia is a very remarkable woman. I was wondering how she survived this Winter of 2107. I note that the previous comments were from 2016. I pray for her health-- She looks great for her age. I'm happy to know that she has someone to help her so that she won't be alone in the wilderness.
Carolyn Gerlitz, Mt. Shasta, California USA
19/03/2017 07:35
What is the latest updates on her condition? The world would love to see and hear more!
Ernest & Francine, Sun, Louisiana
14/03/2017 00:35
Amazing lady, I admire you so much it brings tears thinking of how difficult your life has been, You inspire me and everyone who i forward this remarkable story too, keep safe lovely lady xx
Julie Spencer, Lake District England
30/01/2017 19:49
May God bless her. May her body heal and may peace, joy and love be her constant companions
Marie Botha , South Africa
18/01/2017 08:30
Merry Christmass Agafia! and a Happy, Healthy and Joyous New Year!
Elizabeth H. , Bozeman, Montana, USA
24/12/2016 12:11
This is a most admirable woman. I am very inspired by her goodness and purity. She is a pure soul in a sinful and rotten world. I am very glad she is taken care of if need be, at her age. I will follow her story. Love you, beautiful Agafia.
Elizabeth Manukian, New York City
20/12/2016 21:11

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