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To get to the hunt where Agafya Lykova lives, whose family was once made famous throughout the country by journalist Vasily Peskov, you have to go through a whole transport quest. But TASS correspondents succeeded, and they brought Agafya not only supplies for the winter, but also a loved one whom she had been waiting for a long time.
The snowfall began the day before and continued throughout the night. The gloomy hills, overgrown with Siberian taiga, were covered with fresh snow, and at times the helicopter flew over them so low that through the snow-covered cedar paws one could see the tracks of animals.
Anton flies to visit his aunt, whom he has never seen. At first, he traveled by train for almost two days, then for several hours by car, and then a helicopter. It's not easy to get to Anton's aunt, a helicopter is needed here, not even a regular one, but a special one. After all, she is not a simple woman, she is a living symbol of the Russian Old Believers, the hermit Agafya Lykova, who has lived all her life in the remote Siberian taiga - there is not a soul for hundreds of kilometers from the place where she lives.
TASS tracked down Anton at the request of Agafya herself, who, during one of the journalists' visits, complained that a relative who knew her by correspondence did not come to her. So the man ended up in Gornaya Shoria, the Tashtagol region of Kuzbass, which for many years has been the most popular departure point for preparing expeditions to the Lykovs settlement.
It is not easy to organize the departure of a large helicopter capable of delivering both people and cargo to the taiga - we combined Anton's visit to a relative with a supply of supplies for the winter, and in this TASS was supported by the Governor of the Kemerovo Region Sergey Tsivilev.
Agafya Karpovna is the last representative of the Lykov family of Old Believers, who fled to the taiga when the communists began especially cruel persecutions on faith. This was back in the late 30s, but Siberian geologists discovered them only in 1978.
The Lykovs settled near the Erinat River in Khakassia, built several residential and outbuildings. Agafya, who buried her mother, brothers, sister and father here, does not leave her native land. She keeps goats, which for some reason are meek and obedient, shares her life with several mongrels, and in a residential hut gives shelter to a whole brood of curious fluffy kittens.
The hermit's everyday life is about household chores, prayers and writing letters that she sends with the visitors. Those, having already returned home, fold the sheets, thickly covered with neat handwriting, in postal envelopes and send them to the addressees - now in Kuzbass, now in Altai, now in Khakassia.
Anton is an employee of the Perm tram depot; he met his relative just by correspondence. Somehow, immersed in the study of the history of his kind, he realized that both his ancestors and the ancestors of the famous taiga hermit came from the same village - Lykovo in the Tyumen region.
The Old Believers, who settled in the mountains of Western Siberia, left there even before the revolution - they have preserved here tiny secluded settlements, the inhabitants of which do not even have passports. In Lykovo itself, according to Anton, almost no one remembers the "old faith".
Realizing that he had a blood relationship with the taiga hermit, Anton wrote her a letter almost two years ago, handed it over to the Old Believer priest, who tried to get the letter delivered to Agafya with the next expedition, and suddenly received an answer.
“I remember my mother said to me:“You got a letter.”I also thought: who could write to me? The letter was from Altai, on the envelope my name is Anton Lykov, and inside is a letter written in her hand,” Anton recalls.
Why not live there?
Shoria, known in Russia for its ski resorts, is historically a land of harsh taiga, hunters and fishermen. The climate here is more difficult than in the flat regions of Kuzbass; winter comes early, even by Siberian standards.
“You have arrived, and today the snow has begun. The roads are sweeping, the passes are in the snow,” says Vladimir Makuta, head of the Tashatogolsk region for 22 years. “Well, nothing, we have our equipment ready, we will handle it.
Here Shors are called not only representatives of the indigenous people, but also just local residents, and this does not depend at all on their nationality. Especially respected people are called real Shors.
There are many representatives of the Lykov family among the real Shors. In the Old Believer village of Kilinsk, there are only 60 courtyards - there are high poles along the road here so that in winter, under the snow, you can see where the road is. There is no mobile connection in the village, and sullen, bearded local men live mainly by hunting, collecting cedar cones and their own household.
Agafya's niece Alexandra Martyusheva, a mother of eight children, a grandmother of 24 grandchildren and a successful local entrepreneur - her family produces oil from pine nuts - also lives here. It was with Martyusheva that more than 20 years ago, after the death of "tya" - Karp Osipovich Lykov, Agafya herself lived for some time in one of the few periods when she agreed to temporarily leave the settlement.
“I remember, she was greatly struck by small children. She was still moved that, she said, for such a small person, she had never seen such a thing. She was the youngest in the family, was born in the taiga - where did she see children there?” Recalls Martyusheva. - My daughter, Marina, fell in love with her very much, she even asked me to give her to her in order to take Marina to the hunt. I did not give her, of course."
According to Martyusheva, Agafya was persuaded to stay in Kilinsk, the inhabitants of the village promised to build a house for her, but Lykova initially came just to stay. Citing the fact that the local water does not suit her, Agafya soon returned to the taiga.
Several years ago, Kuzbass relatives still persuaded her to leave closer to civilization, now, knowing the difficult character of the hermit, they stopped persuading them - they just asked how she lives and give gifts. Relatives, as Anton's example shows, can come themselves.
“She was born there, lived all her life. Everything that is important to her is there, there is a father, her relatives are buried,” Martyusheva explains. “They are helping her now, so why not live there?”
Relatives and helpers
Together with Anton, a whole delegation is flying to Agafya. For the winter, the woman is delivered by helicopter flour, cereals, potatoes, vegetables and fruits, mixed feed for livestock, live chickens and new windows, which were ordered to be inserted by the governor Sergei Tsivilev.
The Altai Old Believer Aleksey Utkin, who met taiga hermits many years ago as a geologist, flies to help her with the household chores in winter. Utkin found almost the entire Lykov family alive and repeatedly hibernated at the hut. Now he is going to live in the taiga at least until spring.
This time, he plans to restore the bathhouse, which was destroyed in the spring when the river flooded. "By the New Year, I have to manage. And there, if I have the opportunity, I will go to Altai on business, manage, turn around and go to Agafya on foot. It's not far away, only ten days," Aleksey smiles.
Utkin, with whom the hermit finds a common language, she is very much looking forward to. 74-year-old Lykova needs not only help with the housework, but also just a company, an interlocutor. However, not everyone who wants to get along with her. So, with the previous assistant, George, Agafya did not find agreement on matters of faith.
“I got angry with him, said, go, I don’t want to see you anymore. I didn’t bless him,” Lykova categorically states.
But she is very glad to see her newfound relative. As soon as he explains that in front of her is the same Anton who wrote her letters, Agafya, short and smiling, who came out to meet the helicopter in an old coat and a warm burgundy shawl, hugs him tightly and starts talking about the old Lykov family. The hermit knows his story better than any researcher.
She is generally distinguished by a sharp mind and an excellent memory - of more than a dozen who flew in by helicopter, Lykova recalls everyone with whom she has met at least once before. So, says Utkin, who knows her well, it has always been.
It is enough to get to know Agafya, and she will always remember who is in front of her and where he came from. With all the variety of officials, journalists and pilgrims arriving several times a year, Lykova manages not to get confused in them.
Crosses and people
Anton brought a hotel to a relative - three meters of fabric, a warm scarf. But Agafya is especially happy with church candles. She has lanterns, a gasoline generator, and you can turn on an electric lamp, but candles are not simple and for her they have a sacred meaning.
In the hut, among the shelves filled with clothes and various utensils, there is a separate, clean and well-groomed corner for icons and holy books. Agafya places the gospel in an upholstered iron binding on the shelf with the cover first, and carefully covers the top of the book with a clean cloth so that dust does not accumulate on it.
Lykova is stingy with movements and emotions - she walks not in an old way slowly, but sedately, as she is used to. He does not raise his voice, is not indignant at anything and does not laugh loudly, only smiles with some kind of childish, naive and in a special bright smile.
While windows are being inserted in the hut, Agafya shows Anton her farm, talks about icons, flips through the holy books with him and leads Karp Osipovich to the grave. The father of the taiga family is buried not far from the house, under a simple wooden cross, which has blackened from time to time.
Lykova noticed the same eight-pointed Orthodox cross quite recently, "when the water left," on a large stone at the bottom of the shallow and clean Erinat rivulet, a few tens of meters from the hut.
There are indeed white cross-shaped veins on the dark gray stone, and no one will remember seeing it here before. When asked whether she considers it a miracle, a sign of God, an accidental whim of nature, or something else, Agafya just smiles and turns the conversation to another topic: “Well, my bear has become completely insolent today. After the Intercession, he came straight to the house. And now the snow has already fallen."
And so her life goes on: waiting for a bear after the Intercession and meeting early winter, growing potatoes and preparing hay for goats, carrying water from the river, spinning wool, working on a loom and doing many other necessary things away from human society, alone with herself. But not everyone is ready for this.
“This is not just a physically strong, healthy person, we have a lot of such and such,” says Vladimir Makuta, who visited Agafya many times and saw many of her assistants. “It's one thing to spend a day, spend a week there. But living there should be a man of strong faith. But this is not enough for everyone."
Anton spent only a few hours with Agafya, but on his return he thinks about staying there for a long time. Not so much for the sake of a test of faith, as in order to find a spiritual guide in the person of the hermit. Who knows, maybe this is not the last flight to catch in Anton's life. If anything, we will hand over the pilots' contacts to him.