Tag Archives: Russia

Taiga, taiga, burning bright: the Lykovs of Siberia

After reading about the Know Nothings on the Smithsonian Magazine website (note: it seems that the bare existence of history offends some Trump supporters), I then saw one about the Lykov family.

The Lykovs were a family of Old Believers – proper old skool Orthodox types – who in the late 1930s fled east into the Siberian wilderness or ‘taiga’ in fear of Soviet purges and suppression of their religion. They forged a life for themselves, just about, living off the bounty of the land (which sometimes isn’t that bountiful, especially when it’s minus forty degrees; the mother, Akulina, died of starvation in 1961).

They completely avoided contact with the outside world, with any strangers from outside their small family group, for forty years, until 1978 when a party of passing geologists spotted them and dropped by to totally freak them out with tales of men on the moon and television and flared trousers. It was enough to kill off the three oldest offspring in 1981, leaving just the ageing patriarch Karp and his youngest daughter Agafia (born 1944). Then old Karp popped his clogs in 1988, on the anniversary of Akulina’s own passing.

Since then Agafia’s been the last Lykov remaining. In 1997 a retired geologist (what is it with these rock-botherers?!) decided to come and live nearby to help her out, but seeing as he was older than her, hadn’t lived his entire life in the taiga, and was, uh, a one-legged amputee, it seems she was doing most of the helping. He died in 2015. In early 2016 Agafia herself was airlifted out for medical treatment. Not sure if she’s returned.

Anyway, there’s some great documentaries about Agafia and her family out there; even the Russian language ones are worth catching for the footage.

(It reminds me a little of the story of Lieutenant Hiroo Shinoda, the ‘last of the holdouts’ (though he wasn’t), who hid out in the countryside of the Philippines for nearly twenty years after the close of the Second World War until rooted out by young hippie explorer Norio Suzuki.)

Poděkujte mým jménem kuchaři!

It's all about the pork and cabbage, baby

Been busy the last week or so, redecorating and whatnot here at the BunKRS, but it’s pretty much done for the moment.

I just have to show off the top present the LLF got me for my birthday: Food Of Eastern Europe* edited by Lesley Chamberlain. I love my Mitteleuropan grub, and have long wanted to do a grub & glug tour from the Baltic to the Balkans, with a touch of eastward expansion into the Rus’ too, so I’ve been salivating over the recipes in it all day (I even woke up from my siesta dribbling 😮 ). We’ll be getting in some practice at the weekend – we’re off to sunny Praha!

* Not sure the Czechs, Hungarians, Austrians etc would appreciate being called East Europeans, though 😉

The glamour of war illustrated through the medium of Gori imagery

Arkady Babchenko is a Russian journalist who himself served as a soldier in Chechnya.

Recently he accompanied a column of Russian troops on their counterattack through Ossetia into Georgia. This photo is one of many he took along the way.

Tip o’ the titfer: Blood & Treasure