Tanzilya Bisembeyeva, who lived in Russia, has died at 123 years old
A woman held by Russia to be the oldest in the world at 123 has passed away, it was announced today.
Tanzilya Bisembeyeva, born two months before the coronation of tragic last Tsar Nicholas II, had lived during three centuries, it is claimed.
‘She died peacefully, she was buried in the family cemetery,’ said Nurgali Baitemirov, the senior official in her district in Astrakhan region, reported Russian government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
‘The whole village came to see her depart on her last journey.’
Her claim to be the oldest woman in her country was recognised by the Russian Book of Records and evidently the Russian government.
If true, it meant she was the oldest person on the planet.
The secret of her long life, surviving the upheavals of the Russian revolution, when she was already 21, and the Soviet collapse, as well the tyranny of Stalin, was ‘optimism and hard work’ – along with drinking kefir, or fermented milk.
Locals say she was more than 100 before she went to see a doctor.
Her family said her longevity was down to her ‘never sitting still’ and a ‘healthy lifestyle’.
She claimed to have been born in 1896, just two months before the coronation of tragic last Tsar Nicholas II. Tanzilya is believed to have lived through the rule of Nicholas II, Kerensky, Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko, Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Putin, and Medvedev
She did not smoke and ate only natural foods, and endured many decades of work for which Tanzilya received a labour award.
‘She was working all the time in the fields,’ said one account.
‘My mother has seen a lot during her long life. She has lived from Rasputin to Putin,’ said Shintas, her son, now in his 70s, several years ago.
Grigory Rasputin was the ‘crazed monk’ who held the Russian royal family in his thrall, arguably speeding the demise of the Romanov dynasty, while President Vladimir Putin is one of a dozen Kremlin rulers during her lifetime.
Tanzilya said her old age was down to ‘optimism and hard work’ – along with drinking kefir, or fermented milk. She endured many decades of work for which Tanzilya received a labour award (pictured)
Officials say her birth certificate and internal Russian passport indicated her great age, but sceptics point to this making her 53 when she first gave birth, and 59 when her third son was born.
In all Tanzilya had three sons, ten grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren, say reports.
An ethnic Kazakh and a Muslim, she was born as the eldest of eight and raised her siblings, marrying after the revolution when she worked as a labourer on a Soviet collective farm.
She had three sons, ten grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren in her life and two great-great grandchildren throughout her life
She had no children before her first husband went missing during the Second World War.
Yet she found happiness during Stalin’s final decade in power, say her family, after marrying Musagali Bisembeev, 16 years her senior.
Son Shintas said: ‘My mother met my father in 1946.
‘She was 50 and he was over 60 but he was a strong man, he worked at the collective farm and did as much as two men would do.
‘After the war my parents lived in a soldier’s shelter and their first son died in his babyhood.
Tanzilya had no children before her first husband went missing during the Second World War and went on to marry Musagali Bisembeev, 16 years her senior, in 1946
‘They were so poor that could not afford a proper house, and probably this is why their baby son died.You could not heat such room properly.
‘But later they had three more sons, just think about it.
‘I was born when my mother was 53 and the youngest brother was born when she was 59. It still sounds incredible.
The woman’s family have said her longevity was down to her ‘never sitting still’ and a ‘healthy lifestyle’
‘Life was not easy and they were often hungry then.
‘I still remember being five years old and already helping my parents with the hay.’
Despite being Russia’s oldest citizen, she hardly spoke the language, preferring her native Kazakh tongue.
Neighbour Valentina Akbasova said three years ago: ‘She is so gentle. She will always hug you and kiss and ask how you feel, she was always eager to help.’
Tanzilya is believed to have lived through the rule of Nicholas II, Kerensky, Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko, Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Putin, and Medvedev (succeeded by Putin again in 2012).
Neighbours have described the 123-year-old (pictured) as gentle and ‘always eager to help’. It has been claimed that the whole village came to see her depart on her last journey’ at the family cemetery in Astrakhan, Russia
Two other Russian women Koku Istambulova, purportedly 129, and Nanu Shaova, listed as 128, both died earlier this year.
A problem with recognising such claims is the lack of original documentation of their births partly due to the turmoil of revolution and war in Russia.
The oldest documented human lifespan is Jeanne Calment, from France, who lived 122 years, 164 days, dying in 1997.
As a girl she met Vincent van Gogh.
In March this year Kane Tanaka from Fukuoka, Japan, was officially confirmed as the oldest verified living person at 116 years.