Russian authorities have found a young man living alone in a Siberian forest after having apparently spent most of his life living there in a hut with his parents, local officials said Tuesday.
Locals near the town of Belokurikha found the man, who told the local prosecutor that he was born in 1993 and had lived in the forest since 1997, when his family decided to leave society.
But his parents left him alone in the hut in May before he finally went to a nearby village to ask for help when the summer ended, the authorities said.
The local prosecutor's office, alarmed that the man may have to spend the Siberian winter in a forest by himself, appealed in court to have his identification documents reestablished so that he can seek seek state support, prosecutor Roman Fomin told AFP.
"I am not sure if he needs all this attention," he said. "He looked normal and healthy, he only spoke slowly, since he doesn't communicate as often as most people."
He said that the man's family went to live in the wild as a conscious decision, but apparently not for religious reasons. "They are not religious people," he said.
"He was just afraid that he won't survive the winter without his parents," Fomin said. "But maybe they have already come back."
Fomin said that a local woman had brought the young man to the prosecutors out of fear that he may need help through the cold winter, but the man then had gone back to his hiding place in the forest.
The Russian media are variously calling him "forest boy" or the "Siberian Mowgli," after the main character in Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book."
Belokurikha is a well-known resort area in Russia's picturesque Altai region in south Siberia, known for mineral springs, health spas, and skiing.