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Marc Di Duca

Emergency helicopter sent to rescue world famous Siberian hermit 

By The Siberian Times reporter
08 July 2016

72 year old Agafya Lykova begged for help saying she was short of food.

'She would have never called if it wasn't for something serious. Whenever Agafya calls I know that we have to respond immediately.' Picture: Administration of Kemerovo region

Siberian TV presenter Andrey Grishakov said Agafya called him by satellite phone earlier this week, complaining about a serious shortage of food for herself and her animals. She also said she was in weak health.

Grishakov has been visiting Agafya for the last five years, filming a documentary about Russia's 'loneliest woman'. 

'She would have never called if it wasn't for something serious. Whenever Agafya calls I know that we have to respond immediately', Grishakov wrote on his Facebook page. 

'She is not the kind of person who would agree to leave her place and move to the 'big land'. She is scared of everything modern.'

Scared or not, it was a satellite phone which Agafya finally agreed to accept last year that enabled her to get in touch with Grishakov. A helicopter was sent out immediately to check on her health; she has been long suffering from back and legs pains. 

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

'Agafya Lykova is not your ordinary elderly woman.' Picture: Alexander Kuznetsov/Krasnoyarsky Rabochiy

The team that visited Agafya will come back next week with a set of basic grains she requested, food for her goats and a new torch with a set of batteries. 

'Agafya Lykova is not your ordinary elderly woman,' he said. 'Today many people asked me why I was helping, and why so many effort was invested in keeping in touch with her. 

'But she is a golden mine of knowledge, experience and culture of Russia as it was five, six centuries ago. Scientists study her dialect, record her vocabulary and make notes of her habits. I have no doubt that we should be helping her,' said Andrey Grishakov.

The hermit was born to a family that opted out of Stalin's Russia to live in the wilderness, and their existence went unnoticed for several decades. 

She is the last survivor of the deeply religious family and she continues to live at  the home her family built from timber, around 60 miles from the nearest village in the taiga.

Her family were Old Believers - an Orthodox grouping - who were out of step with the USSR when they fled religious persecution into the forest in 1936.

Agafya Lykova in hospital

Agafya Lykova at Tashtagol hospital. Picture: Efir-T

She lives like a peasant from the 19th century rejecting most modern comforts. In recent years she has faced danger from a bear which dug the grave of another hermit who lived close to her. 

Her family were discovered living off the land after being spotted from the air by a group of geologists in the 1970s. When they were found, they had no idea World War Two had started - or ended. 

Her plot is located close to Yerinat River, some 100 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.

In 1978 that a group of geologists found the family after spotting their hideout from the air. The scientists reported that Agafya spoke a strange blurred language 'distorted by a lifetime of isolation'.

Agafya Lykova with father Karp


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

Agafya Lykova, pictured in the middle of eighties with father Karp, left, and Krasnoyarsk professor Igor Nazarov. The Lykov's farmstead pictured in 1980. Pictures: Igor Nazarov, Nikolai Proletskiy

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.

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.

Agafya Lykova


Agafya's plot


Agafya's plot

Her plot is located close to Yerinat River, some 100 metres up a remote mountain side in the Abakan Range, in south-western Siberia. Pictures: Russian Geographical Society 

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.

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.

Two years after their discovery, three of the four children also died: Savin and Natalia suffered kidney failure and Dmitry perished from 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 in her remote homestead.

Comments (22)

I hope Agafya is doing well these days. She is an inspiration to all of us. I would love to visit her.
Rick Nordal, Vancouver, BC, Canad.
03/07/2019 13:09
0
0
Dearest Agafia, thank you for letting your story be told and giving inspiration to people throughout all the world. I commend you for your strength and bravery, and wish you all the happiness in the world. May God bless you.
Emily, Washington, DC USA
13/05/2019 23:43
0
0
Agafia Lykov's story is very inspiring and challenging indeed. It is an incredible example of the great and wonderful power of the Almighty God, the Lord God Jehovah, to save, keep and present a Christian faultless, unto Him against the day of judgement. Glory be to God and I will see you in heaven!
Renee Wambui, Nairobi, East Africa
19/12/2018 18:36
0
0
Sister in Christ Agafia,
Praying to our Lord Jesus that this may find you well in the Spirit and in the physical body. I watched in t ht e previous video that you have pleaded for brotheren to recieve you and not leave an orphan anymore. I don't know if you will get this massage or how to contact you but, my hope and prayer is that some day soon we come and recieve you to my family. So you can pour on us all the knowledge of the word and the pure Christian heritage for our spuritual growth, strong faith as yours and strength to stand on what we believe!

Brother and sister in Christ from South Carolina, USA,
Mann...
Mann Aguilar, Aiken SC, USA
11/11/2018 07:27
1
0
God allows us to see stars shining in people like you, Agafia, so we may stay hopeful and never stop dreaming on how beautiful life is as we trust God for our future. Thank you for helping me to remember that
Tony, Phoenix, USA
09/09/2018 23:41
2
0
Buenas tardes agradeceria a alguien cualquier noticia sobre Agafia su situacion actua{ y estado de salud a mi correo iterangraterol@gmail.com Dios los Bendiga y muchas gracias
Iscarbin Teran, Venezuela
09/03/2018 04:15
1
0
Amada hermana Agafia que nuestro Padre te Bendiga y guarde estoy muy lejos de ti quiero que sepas que en mis oraciones todas las noches pedire a Dios por que tus provisiones nunca falten para ti y tus animalitos tambien pedire por tu salud me encantaria hacer nucho mas por ti mi compañia y amistad la tendras a pesar de no conocernos y muy a pesar de la distancia, Ojala pueda alguien hacerte llegar mis palabras y traducirlas a tu idioma. Un gran abrazo hermana desde el Esrado Lara en Venezuela.
Iscarbin Teran, Venezuela
09/03/2018 04:07
1
0
I wish very much to say hello to your goats.
Harrison Chiu, Western Ethiopia
02/03/2018 18:49
1
1
Agafia we are after you
Benjamin Bacadayan, Soviet Russia
02/03/2018 18:49
1
2
Dear Agafya!
I was lost in my life but after watching your story I know That I don't know about life anything!!!My life compares with yours is a miles different...you begun so much inspirational for me. I wish so much to meet you. You are real alive miracle for me. Your all person and life demonstrate that there must be something Who cares of us....and you are one of them...I can't describe how unique person you are. I am lying in my bed ,under the quilt ,the thermostat on the wall gave signal to make a warm house and I am thinking about you how luxurious life I am living compare with yours...and I feel shame that I don't know so much as you do about life...I pray that God is look after you as long as its signs in a stars. God bless you my dearest Agafya!!!
Eva Dospelova-Arnold, Slovakia-England
02/01/2018 07:17
4
0
Agafya, you have truly inspired me to grow closer to God. I have shed many tears since learning of you, some for the way that I have lived my life, and some for the way you live yours. I pray that you get the companion that you hope for, it's never too late. I pray for you constantly and wish you many blessings. Good loves you , you are blessed! Says the Holy Spirit. I know that he is watching over you. I wish that I could meet you or write you.

Love Shawana
Shawana Patterson, Las Vegas, NV, USA
21/08/2017 08:22
6
1
I wish I could visit Agafia Lykov sometime.
Jebasteen, Chennai, India
16/08/2017 02:17
5
0
I really hope Agafia is doing well. She is such an amazing and inspiring person. Please contact tobiasklassen[at]gmail[dot][com] if any financial or other help is needed to help her out.
Tobias Klassen, Italy
17/07/2017 06:09
8
0
Incredible! And Kudos to Agafia! Hope you are doing well and may the Modern World stay out of your life as much as possible! I sincerely hope the surviving members of the Old Believers in Russia have the means and the ability the help this Grand Old Saint in her twilight years, that being said, May God Bless you and all who bless her!
Chad, Poplar Bluff USA
08/06/2017 21:37
4
0
I hope that Agafya is doing well. Her story gives me strength.
Rebecca , United States
26/04/2017 10:20
6
0
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