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World’s loneliest woman: 76-year-old Russian hermit helped by aluminium billionaire

The World’s loneliest woman will be able to stay in her Siberian home located hundreds of miles from civilisation after a billionaire tycoon stepped in to help.

Russian aluminium tycoon Oleg Deripaska has stepped in to help Agafya Lykova, 76, sole survivor of a family that in 1936 fled into the forest – where she was born – to avoid religious persecution under Stalin.

The rush is on now to build the remarkable woman a home, as she refuses to move to a town or city, the nearest of which is 150 miles from the scenic mountainside where she has survived all her life.

Much of her life has been spent as an 18th century peasant, growing her own food, shunning modern comforts, and living by the bible.

But there are now fears for Agafya’s health if she continues to live in the shack where she was born built by her father and brothers after they fled Communism to live in a remote corner of Siberia. 

Agafya Lykova, 76, is the survivor of a family that in 1936 fled into the forest – where she was born – to avoid religious persecution under Stalin. She has lived there all her life

The rush is on now to build the remarkable woman a home, as she refuses to move to a town or city, the nearest of which is 150 miles from the scenic mountainside where she has survived all her life. Pictured: The buildings that she has called home all her life

The rush is on now to build the remarkable woman a home, as she refuses to move to a town or city, the nearest of which is 150 miles from the scenic mountainside where she has survived all her life. Pictured: The buildings that she has called home all her life

There, they were totally cut off and unaware of the Second World War or Yuri Gagarin’s landmark first manned mission to space.

Pictures show how a single storey home is under construction to give her more protection from the minus 58F (-50C) cold expected this winter.

Special care is being taken to avoid Agafya catching Covid-19 as the house is built for her.

‘We all take extreme care when visiting Agafya,’ said local official Alexander who for years has made occasional trips to see the hermit to check on her well-being in territory where bears and wolves roam.

Russian aluminium tycoon Oleg Deripaska has stepped in to help Lykova build a new home to protect her from the minus 58F (-50C) cold expected this winter

Russian aluminium tycoon Oleg Deripaska has stepped in to help Lykova build a new home to protect her from the minus 58F (-50C) cold expected this winter

‘Virus or no virus – she is like a Mowgli who has never come across modern day infections and diseases.

‘We know how disciplined and cautious we must be in making sure she stays safe.’

The new house provided by Deripaska – who has a $2.3 billion fortune – is being delivered in at least 18 separate air-boat deliveries to the recluse’s ultra-remote hideaway.

It was originally assembled in Abakan city, then taken apart and moved to the Sayan Mountains, where it is due for completion early next year.

The shack was first built by her father and brothers after they fled Communism to live in a remote corner of Siberia. Lykova was born afterwards and has known little else

The shack was first built by her father and brothers after they fled Communism to live in a remote corner of Siberia. Lykova was born afterwards and has known little else

Much of her life has been spent as an 18th century peasant, growing her own food, shunning modern comforts, and living by the bible. Pictured: Lykova in an old photo

Much of her life has been spent as an 18th century peasant, growing her own food, shunning modern comforts, and living by the bible. Pictured: Lykova in an old photo

‘The new house will be well insulated,’ promised director of Khakassky Nature Reserve, Viktor Nepomnyashchiy.

Deripaska also funded an ‘assistant’ to help Agafya through the coldest months of winter.

Her family of devout Old Believers, an Orthodox religious sect, remained undetected by the Soviet authorities for more than 40 years after fleeing into the wilderness.

Finally, their remote homestead and cultivated hillsides were accidentally spotted from the air by a group of Soviet geologists.

Nikolay Sedov, 56, son of one of the Soviet geologists who found the family in the 1970s, is helping Agafya through the winter.

Her father and brothers died after they were found and visited in their remote forest in 1978 – three decades after fleeing Stalin’s repressions.

It is believed their lack of immunity to modern diseases was a key factor.

Pictured: The construction ongoing of the home

Pictures show how a single storey home is under construction to give her more protection from the minus 58F (-50C) cold expected this winter

Pictures show how a single storey home is under construction to give her more protection from the minus 58F (-50C) cold expected this winter

There was a Covid-19 scare in July when social media influencer Arina Shumakova, 41, was accused of flouting safety measures and flying in with a team by helicopter to ‘hug’ Agafya.

‘They simply ignored all the legal requirements and visited,’ said a spokesman for the nature reserve in remote Khakassia where she lives.

Nepomnyashchy said Shumakova flouted ‘moral, ethical and theological’ norms.

They ‘grossly violated the flight rules, failed to use personal protective equipment, and shot videos and photos without a permit.’

But Shumakova, 41, claimed the hermit was happy to see her.

She and her family were totally cut off and unaware of the Second World War or Yuri Gagarin's landmark first manned mission to space

She and her family were totally cut off and unaware of the Second World War or Yuri Gagarin’s landmark first manned mission to space

Lykova refuses to move to a town or city, the nearest of which is 150 miles from the scenic mountainside where she has survived all her life.

Lykova refuses to move to a town or city, the nearest of which is 150 miles from the scenic mountainside where she has survived all her life.

‘The pilot strictly prohibited us even to touch Agafya,’ she said.

‘But when we were leaving, I told her: ‘”gafya, I want to give you a hug so much, but I was prohibited.” And she told me: “We can hug, he (the pilot) can’t see!”‘

She said: ‘I want to scream that I have seen Agafya with my own eyes…

‘This is some sort of a dream.’

Old Believers split from the Orthodox Church in 1666 after protesting against reforms, and many moved to remote areas of Siberia in tsarist times. 


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