129-year-old Woman Calls Long Life a Punishment From God, Recalls Stalin’s Reign

A woman who claims to be the world's oldest said she only had one happy day in all of her 129 years.

A Chechen woman who claims to be the world’s oldest living person at 129-years-old says she has had only one happy day over all that time.

Koku Istambulova, born June 1, 1889, according to her Russian passport, has a vivid memory of the horrors of Joseph Stalin‘s reign over the Soviet Union.

Istambulova claims she and her native Chechen people were forced into exile to what is now Kazakhstan by Stalin nearly 75 years ago. The elderly woman said that she witnessed countless horrors and atrocities during her 13 year expulsion, but can recall one happy moment — returning to the home she built with her bare hands at the end of World War II.


“You’re asking if I had a single happy day in my life,” Istambulova said to a documentary crew, according to the Daily Mail. “It was the day when I first entered my house… I built it myself, the best house in the world.”

Istambulova’s claim in the video that her return home was her only happy day is juxtaposed by much darker memories of being shoved into cattle trucks and watching her fellow citizens die when she was 54-years-old.

“We were put in a train and taken,” she said, “no one knew where. Railway carriages were stuffed with people — dirt, rubbish, excrement was everywhere.

“On the way to our exile, dead bodies were just thrown out of the train,” she recalled. “Nobody was allowed to bury the dead.”

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