Agafia Lykova, a 70-year-old hermit who has lived in the wilderness in remote Siberia her entire life, was reported to have used a satellite phone to ask for medical assistance recently, according to the Kemerovo region website.
Lykova was born in Siberia in 1944 to her parents, Karp Osipovich Lykov and Akulina Lykova, who fled to the vast and remote Russian region in 1936 after Soviet authorities shot her brother, according to the Guardian.
The devout Christian was said to have been airlifted to a hospital in Tashtagol, under the orders of the Kemerovo Governor Aman Tuleyev, in order to operate on a painful leg. The pain was reported to have been the result of a deterioration of cartilage. After the operation, Agafia Lykova’s pain was said to have been greatly alleviated and she was expected to remain in the hospital for another week.
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After living with a neighbor, Yerofei Sedov, who first met the family in 1979, for close to 20 years, Agafia Lykova was spending her first winter in many alone this year. Sedov died in May 2015, as reported by the Siberian Times. Agafia was reported to have buried the body of the 76-year-old man near the cabin he had erected close by her own.
When Agafia Lykova’s parents first fled Russian society in 1936, they were said to have settled 150 miles from the nearest populated settlement, and to have continued moving farther into the wilderness as time passed. The family were members of the Old Believer religious faith that broke from the Russian Orthodox Church 350 years ago; Old Believers were described as having been “persecuted since the days of Peter the Great.”
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Lykova’s family was said to have remained completely isolated, and oblivious to the outside world, until a team of Russian geologists, of which Yerofei Sedov was said to be associated, happened upon them when surveying the area in a helicopter. When the scientists questioned the Siberian hermits they were reported to have had no idea that World War II occurred or that Joseph Stalin was dead, according to the Siberian Times.
Sedov was reported to have kept on eye on the well-being of the family from then on — on one occasion, upon not hearing from the family for a long period of time, Sedov traveled to Siberia to find Agafia’s father extremely sick, and was said to aid her in nursing him back to health.
After the discovery of Agafia Lykova and her family, they became the attention of a great deal of media coverage. At first, the family would only accept minor conveniences from the outside world into their lives: those who visited were said to have brought salt and eating utensils.
Sadly, after her mother died during a particularly cold winter in 1961, when the family was forced to eat leather shoes to survive, the others passed away one by one, succumbing to the rough existence they eked-out for decades after being discovered in 1978: her siblings died from kidney failure and pneumonia; her father died in 1988, leaving Agafia alone until 1997 when she received some company from Yerofei Sedov when he arrived to keep close to her and live the country life.
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These days, Agafia is said to accept more help from outsiders. Just before the New Year, a Russian news crew visited Lykova and were said to leave her with “batteries for her torch, candles, food for her goats and a food pack containing fruit and sweets.”
“I wish everyone good health, spiritual salvation, prosperity, well-being and long years ahead,” the 70-year-old woman was quoted by the Russian newscasters in a New Year’s message to the world. Because she grew up in such an isolated manner, reading only ancient copies of Bibles, and not meeting outsiders until the geologists found her family in 1978, Agafia Lykova’s speech is said to be filled with curious archaic and religious terms, along with an accent unique to her.
“You are such a kind person with a pure soul. You are not alone, because we, from different parts of the world, are all with you,” Xi Pang wrote to the well-liked Lykova in a comment on the Siberian Times website.
[Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images]