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

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31 December 2014


'I wish everyone good health, spriritual salvation, prosperinty, well-being and long years ahead'. Picture: Igor Nazarov

A famous Siberian hermit who has only ever ventured out of isolation a handful of times has come out of hiding to deliver a New Year message to the world. Reclusive Agafya Lykova is the sole survivor of family of Old Believers that cut themselves off from civilisation for decades and in 1978 had no idea the World War Two had ended.

Members of a fundamentalist Russian orthodox church that had been persecuted since the days of Peter the Great in the 18th century, the Lykovs 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.

Their full incredible story only emerged in the 1980s, turning them into a national phenomenon although Agafya chose to remain on the little plot.

Now the last remaining member of the family, even to this day she has only ventured out from isolation six times in her 71 years. However, for the first time she has gone in front of television cameras to wish the world a prosperous and fruitful New Year.

Giving an interview to NTV she said: 'I wish everyone good health, spriritual salvation, prosperinty, well-being and long years ahead'.

Reclusive Siberian hermit Agafia Lykov comes out of isolation to say Happy New Year
Agafya Lykova, 71. Picture: Alexander Kuznetsov, Krasnoyarsky Rabochiy 

Agafya, who was born in 1943, was given a handful of presents during the visit from the television crew, including batteries for her torch, candles, food for her goats and a food pack containing fruit and sweets. Her life in the Siberian countryside is tough and she told NTV correspondent Sergey Syrkin that she is now finding the harsh winter 'unbearable'.

He said: 'It’s hard to heat her izba (log house) and she fails to save enough products. Wild animals often come to her lodge and steal her food'.

During the interview he also discovered that the reclusive woman tries to chase away anyone who visits her with a cough or a cold. It was this partly this illness that killed her brothers and father, and she is scared of the symptoms. At the beginning of winter her neighbour, geologist Yerofey Sedov, came down with an illness and she told him to stay way.

Agafya said: 'He was coughing and coughing and I got scared. For me it’s case of if you cough, get away from here'.

Agafya has called the wilderness home for all of her seven decades, with her little plot located about 500 feet 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 group, with scientists reporting that Agafia spoke a strange blurred language 'distorted by a lifetime of isolation'. Her father, Karp Lykov, 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.

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

Reclusive Siberian hermit Agafia Lykov comes out of isolation to say Happy New Year
The Lykovs' house pictured in the middle of 80s, and Agafya some years ago. Pictures: Igor Nazarov, Vladimir Makuta

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. 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 on the little homestead.

A number of people, including Aman Tuleyev, the governor of Kemerovo Oblast, do keep an eye out for her, bringing her provisions including cabbage, flour, grapes and her favourite oranges. Vladimir Makuta, head of Tashtagolskyi region of Kemerovskaya Oblast, said: 'It is important for us to know she has everything she needs, that she’ll live another winter and will have food'.

Comments (66)

Please give an update on Agafya ! It's been 4 years since this article was written. Want to know how she is doing.
Karen, Virginia Beach, Virginia United States
24/01/2019 14:51
Please someone who knows Agafia and how to contact her please email me at I am willing to financially have her home remodeled and insulated. I am willing to completely donate any and all foods, materials she needs to make it through the next several winters. Please someone email me and let me know. I have canned meats, and fishes, all the fruits and vegetables she could ever ask for... NO BAR CODES.
Shawn Rice , Houston Texas USA
04/07/2018 05:52
Como vivir ,y ayudar a esta alma en nuestro tiempo si me ayudan lo hago decididoa vivir alli con Agafya Lykova
E.Marcano, Berin
08/05/2018 21:00
A true believer of Christ, a true lover of God. This love of God is slowly dwindling away from humanity with satanists and luciferians taking over. God bless you, Agafya and God bless us all.
Cate, Canada
09/07/2017 08:23
true testimony of how strong we actually are...brave,and a real fighter to survive those conditions..
Eileen, Bethlehem USA
08/07/2017 05:48
I also wish I could have met you. You are a remarkable lady. I am happy your legs are better. And the man Georgy helps you. And the governor helped you with things. May God Bless you. Love to you. Thanks for the video
Charlotte. Schreffler, Medford, Oregon USA
29/05/2017 01:15
I thought I had health problems, but my God, I have no such thing compared to you. I admired you as a woman myself. I have respect for your beliefs and you have moved my soul. I feel now, that I can achieve anything if I decide to do so. I have been selfish, lazy and many other things, but you have inspired me to change my life and be a different person. I hope that your breast tumor has been removed and that your health is much better. Agafia, I also want you to know that I adore cats as well as you. Puerto Rico is a tropical climate, I have been blessed being born here. I am 70 years old and hope to keep on living in this beautiful island. Bless you my dear, and may God be with you for the rest of your life "Dios te bendiga" (God bless you in Spanish).
Lourdes Gonzalez-Luciano, Aguada, Puerto Rico (Caribbean Islands)
26/05/2017 19:28
thank you...inspiring for simplicity, perseverance, hard work, virtues of many kinds....
bg, columbia,us
17/02/2017 09:03
Dear Agafia,
You are a good Christian lady and I wish you a long, happy and healthy life.
Janet Mortimer, Sydney Australia
05/01/2017 10:36
You're a lesson to so many of us, mostly me, God keep you safe and well beautiful soul
Ouncy, Lebanon
09/12/2016 00:58
I just want to know if they took that giant breast tumor out when she went in for leg pain? It needs to come out before it gets infected.
john merrick, bellmead, texas, usa
26/11/2016 11:39
Agafia, és emocionant saber que existeixes. Desitjo de tot cor que tot et vagi molt bé!!!
Marina, Catalonia, Spain
01/11/2016 04:44
I watch your videos all the give me spiritual inspiration. I moved from California to Dahab, Egypt in 2004 and, although not as extreme as what you have survived, it was so different to me here. Your videos gave me hope that I could make this journey alone, with little money. I believe in God as deeply as humanly possible, as you do. Your strength comes from within also. I am now 68 and life is sweet here now. I enjoy the simplicity of life here away from the modern world also. So, thank you for being there while I made this new journey. As is God's will, so goes the world.
Virginia, Dahab, Egypt
01/10/2016 23:18
Hello, You are an amazing lady. I read ,and saw pictures of you and your homestead. And the other man there. I am 72 May 13 of 2016. Happy New Year. I really enjoyed reading about you.
Charlotte. Schreffler, Medford, Oregon USA
19/06/2016 09:57
Agafya you are a true inspiration to all of us. I would love to come up to look after you but all I'd be able to do is keep you company because I'm wheelchair bound I'm another one who truly loves you that happened when I saw the documentary on the T.V. after that I was on a mission to find out all I could about you I'm surprised as to the amount I've found. You are really a wonderful, wonderful lady and you put the rest of us to shame. There will always be a very special place in my heart for you! Please take care and God bless you. You know you've got him watching over you so you will be ok. God Bless you my 'friend'. Love and best wishes Mandy Smithson.
Mandy Smithson, England
09/03/2016 02:22

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