A hermit who lives like she is in the 18th century has refused a demand to leave her home even though she could be hit by debris from an imminent Russian rocket launch.
Recluse Agafya Lykova recently marked her 75th birthday in the wooden shack where she was born some 150 miles from the nearest town deep in the Siberian taiga.
She is the last survivor of a family of Old Believers – a Russian Orthodox grouping – who fled into the forest in 1936 to avoid religious persecution under Stalin.
The Lykovs remained undetected for more than 40 years until their remote homestead – where Agafya still lives – was spotted from the air by Soviet geologists.
Russian space agency officials recently journeyed into the taiga to warn her that her home is on the flight path of a coming rocket launch from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
But she steadfastly refused to move from her simple home where she keeps goats and grows her own food.
The recluse told officials: “The rockets fell down before. So what is different now?”
Since the death of parents and siblings – she has been alone since 1988 – Agafya has refused all demands from Russian officials to move to sheltered housing in a village in Khakassia region.
In 2016 she was briefly hospitalised but demanded to return as soon as possible to her homestead where she refuses to carry any weapons and scares away wild brown bears by banging cutlery on a plate, reported The Siberian Times.
She complained that in “civilisation” there are “so many cars, saying: “Why do you need so many? There's so much smoke from them, there's nothing to breathe.'
Agafya marked her 75th birthday in April and told the director of the nature reserve in which she lives that she has planted her crops for the year and has sufficient grass for her goats.
Viktor Nepomnyaschiy posted that she “has enough food” and survived her latest harsh winter with temperatures as low as minus 35C.
He said: “She complained a bit over her health condition, particularly pain in her legs, but so far she is managing to look after her household."
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 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’.
When they were found the family had no idea World War Two had started – or ended.
Her plot is located close to Yerinat River,on a remote mountain side in the Abakan Range, in south-western Siberia.
Her father had taken the decision to flee civilisation in 1936 after a communist patrol arrived on the fields where 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 fled into the forest.
Over the years they retreated deeper into taiga, building a series of wooden cabins amid the pine trees.
They lived on a staple diet of potato patties mixed with ground rye and hemp seeds.
The Lykovs subsisted 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, led to Akulina’s death.
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.
They lived “as if in the 18th century”, according to one report.
Two years after their discovery, three of the four children also died: Savin and Natalia suffered kidney failure and Dmitry perished 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 home.
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