How does a family of hermits live in the Belarusian forest
Tamara and Yuri Baykovs lived in an ordinary Belarusian village, kept cattle and planted vegetables in the garden. One day, their duck wandered into a nearby area and returned with a beaded wire. Since then, for more than a quarter of a century, a husband and wife have been living in a primitive hut in a forest in the north-east of Belarus, near the Russian border.
In late 1991, local authorities gave them a piece of land in the forest and one night in May 1992, they left with their daughter Veronika, five cows, some products, tools and nails.
They live on a small farm built in 1992. The distance to the nearest Belarusian village Yuhovichi is 15 km, and to Russia - a few hundred meters across the river.
Tamara and Yuri live in a cramped hut, which was originally conceived as a temporary shelter. They planned to build a suitable house, but the lack of money and bureaucratic problems prevented them from doing so.
69-year-old pensioners live a simple life.They have no electricity, so they read by candlelight. They take water from the river and cook on a wood-burning stove. Chickens and ducks supply the pensioners with meat, and goats give them milk and cottage cheese. Manure is their only fertilizer for growing potatoes and vegetables.
Veronica grew up and eventually moved over the river to a Russian village called Davostsy. She now has a 16-year-old daughter named Angelina. Veronica's daughter is their main contact with the outside world. She brings products that may be needed in the store, and also sells her products to generate additional income.
“All this is our Veronica is selling in neighboring Russia. Plus the pension, we have a lot to live for,” said Yuri. "We cannot leave our animals and birds even for a day - and we do not want it."
Tamara and Yuri love to listen to Russian radio stations in order to keep up with world news. But mostly they enjoy being alone.