- Koku Istambulova claims to be 129 - making her the oldest woman in the world
- Istambulova says she did not live a single happy day in her entire life
- She was 27 when the Russian Revolution forced the last Tsar off the throne
- She was 55 when WWII ended and 102 when the Soviet Union collapsed
- Istambulova, from Chechnya, shuns meat but loves fermented milk
- Says she has 'no idea how I lived until now', calling her long life 'a punishment'
By Will Stewart In Moscow for MailOnline
Published: 05:51 EDT, 16 May 2018 | Updated: 12:11 EDT, 16 May 2018
A Russian woman is claiming to be the oldest person in the world, but says her upcoming 129th birthday is nothing but 'punishment'.
Koku Istambulova, from Chechnya, says she has not had a single happy day in her entire life, and has no idea how she has managed to live this long.
Istambulova, who shuns meat but loves fermented milk, believes it simply is 'God's will' that she will live to see 129 next month.
World's oldest person: Koku Istambulova, from Chechnya, is allegedly about to turn 129, making her the world's oldest person
No key to long life? Istambulova, shuns meat and loves fermented milk, but says she has done nothing special to live such a long life
The claim that Istambulova is about to turn 129 is made by the Russian government, and is based on her internal passport, which shows her date of birth as 1 June 1889.
If correct, Istambulova was already 27 when the Russian Revolution unseated Tsar Nicholas II, 55 when World War II ended, and 102 when the Soviet Union collapsed a generation ago.
During the war she recalls 'scary' Nazi German tanks passing her family home in a village in Chechnya.
She and her family were later deported along with the entire Chechen nation Kazakhstan and Siberia by Stalin who accused them of Nazi collaboration.
Asked how she lived so long, Istambulova told an interviewer: 'It was God's will. I did nothing to make it happen.
'I see people [who live long] going in for sports, eating something special, keeping themselves fit, but I have no idea how I lived until now.'
'I have not had a single happy day in my life. I have always worked hard, digging in the garden.
'I am tired. Long life is not at all God's gift for me - but a punishment.'
She is articulate and able to feed herself and walk, but her eyesight is failing.
During her long life, she lost several children, including a son who died aged six.
Relatives say Istambulova's only surviving daughter Tamara died five years ago, aged 104. During her long life, she lost several children,
'I survived through the Russian Civil War [after the Bolshevik revolution], the Second World War, the deportation of our nation in 1944 and through two Chechen wars.
Rural living: Ms Istambulova now lives back in Chechnya again after being deported during World War II by Stalin
Claim: Istambulova's passport shows her date of birth as 1 June, 1889
'And now I am sure that my life was not a happy one.
'I remember tanks with Germans passing our house. It was scary.
'But I tried not to show this, we were hiding in the house. Life in Kazakhstan was the hardest for us.
'When in exile - we lived in Siberia too - but in Kazakhstan we felt how the Kazakhs hated us.
'Every day I dreamed of going back home. Working in my garden helped me to get rid of my sad thoughts but my soul always wanted home.'
She recalled how Muslim restrictions on clothing eased after the end of tsarist times under Soviet rule.
Istambulova says she has worked all her life without enjoyment, and wishes she had died while she was young
'We were brought up with very strict rules and we were very modest in our clothes,' she said.
'I remember my granny beat me and reprimanded because my neck was visible. And then Soviet times came and women quickly began to wear more open clothes.'
'Looking back at my unhappy life, I wish I had died when I was young. 'I worked all my life. I did not have time for rest or entertainment.
'We were either digging the ground, or planting the watermelons. When I was working, my days were running one by one. And now I am not living, I am just dragging through.'
Officials say all her documents were lost during the Second Chechen War from 1999 to 2009.
The pension fund, a state body, claims there are 37 people over 110 years of age in Russia yet all these claims, including Koku's, are impossible to verify because of the lack of reliable birth or early childhood written records.
Most live, like Koku, in the Caucasus which has a history of longevity among its peoples.
Since the death of 117-year-old Nabi Tajima in Japan last month, the oldest documented woman in the world is regarded as Chiyo Miyako, born on 2 May 1901, also from Japan.
The oldest documented human lifespan is Jeanne Calment, from France, who lived 122 years, 164 days, dying in 1997.
Living history: Landmark events in Koku's lifetime
If her internal passport is correct, Koku Istambulova was born in 1889, when the Tsars still ruled Russia.
Here are the major historical events that she has lived through...
Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia, took the throne when Koku was five years old
1894: Tsar Alexander III dies and his son, Nicholas II, takes the throne
1898: The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, a precursor to the Bolsheviks and the Communist Party, holds its first party congress
1905: Revolution of 1905 sees Tsar Nicholas create the first State Duma
1914: Russia enters the First World War
1917: The February Uprising ends with the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II.
The October Uprising installs the Bolshevik party, and their leader Valdimir Lenin, in power
1918: Lenin signs Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, ending war with Germany
1922: Lenin creates the Soviet Union following victory in civil war
1924: Lenin dies
1929: Stalin emerges unchallenged as dictator having exiled rival Trotsky
1939: Stalin signs non-aggression pact with Hitler's Germany
1941: Soviet Union enters World War Two after surprise attack by Hitler
1945: Victory in Europe is achieved as Soviets seize Berlin
1947: Start of the Cold War
1949: Soviets explode their first nuke
1953: Stalin dies and is succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev
Sputnik, the first man-made object to orbit Earth, was launched when Koku was 58, if her internal passport is correct
1957: Sputnik becomes the first manmade craft to orbit the Earth
1961: Yuri Gagarin become the first human to orbit Earth
1962: Cuban Missile Crisis brings world to brink of nuclear war
1979: The Soviets invade Afghanistan, ending attempts to ease Cold War tensions with US
1985: Mikhail Gorbachev becomes General Secretary of Communist Party
1989: Soviets withdraw the last of their troops from Afghanistan
1990: Gorbachev becomes President of the Soviet Union,
1991: The Soviet Union is dissolved. Gorbachev resigns, Boris Yeltsin assumes power
1999: Chechnya-based militia invades Dagestan, leading to the appointment of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin who is tasked with ending the crisis.
Yeltsin resigns, leading to Putin being appointed interim President
2000: Putin wins his first presidential election
2003 - President Putin's United Russia wins landslide election victory
2004 - Putin wins second presidential term by landslide
2006: Former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko is poisoned in London, with a radioactive trail leading back to Russia
Koku would have been 111 when Vladimir Putin won his first presidential election
2008: Dmitry Medvedev wins presidential elections as Putin cannot serve a third consecutive term
2009: War against Georgia ends in Russian withdrawal
2012: Putin returns to the presidency with another landslide election win
2014: Russia annexes Crimea after President Viktor Yanukovych, a staunch ally of Moscow, is ousted from power.
The Winter Olympics are hosted in Sochi
2015: Russia carries out first airstrikes in Syria in support of President Assad
2017: Bomb attack on St Petersburg subway kills 13 people
2018: Sergei Skripal, a former MI5 double-agent, is poisoned in Salisbury. UK and its allies denounce Russia, which denies responsibility.
Putin is returned to power for the fourth time