South of Russia’s Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk
By Ilya Naymushin
Viktor is a hermit who, for the last ten years, has lived all alone in the wild Siberian forest by the banks of the Yenisei River.
I first heard about him in September, when I went out sailing with some yachting buddies of mine, looking for beautiful autumn scenes to photograph. One of my yachtsmen friends suddenly asked: “Do you know that there’s a hermit who lives near here, completely alone? Do you want to visit him and take his picture?” “I don’t know. Yeah, sure, I’d like to,” I replied.
After that conversation, the day eventually came when I went out with my brother Alexey in his boat to meet the hermit. In a distant corner of a deep cove, hidden from view, we spotted a shabby wooden hut. We were in luck, the hermit was at home.
I left the yacht and there I found myself – just him and me.
Viktor seemed quite chatty and kind. I gave him some packets of Kent cigarettes and he lit up at once. My friends, who had met Viktor earlier, had told me that he liked to smoke and they were right. He didn’t stop the entire time I was there.
I told Viktor that I was interested in people who fit into the category “one in a million” and he seemed to be just that type of person. He was happy for me to photograph elements of his daily life, but he didn’t want to give a direct answer to the question of why he had left civilization behind. He also wouldn’t tell me his surname. He did tell me, however, that he used to work as a bargeman on the Yenisei River and that he can operate different kinds of riverboats.