‘Expanding the capabilities of the human body’: Russian biohackers turn to implants, supplements and extreme exercise

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Vladislav Zaitsev and Alexei Rautkin. Credit: AFP

Gripping a scalpel, Vladislav Zaitsev makes an incision in the fold of skin between his client’s thumb and index finger and pushes in a small glass cylinder.

Alexei Rautkin, a 24-year-old programmer in a hoodie, is having a chip inserted in his hand so he can open the door to his office without swiping a card.

Rautkin and Zaitsev are among a growing number of Russians interested in biohacking, a global movement whose followers seek to “upgrade” their bodies with experimental technology and DIY health fixes that began in Silicon Valley at the start of the last decade.

For some, the lifestyle trend involves implanting technology under their skin.

Related article:  Russia relaxes 'almost impassable' restrictions on GMO soy imports, sparking backlash from regional governors

For others — mainly wealthy Russians — the quest is to live longer, which they hope to do through intensive monitoring of their bodies, taking vast quantities of supplements or extreme exercise.

Based on the contact between the close-knit community on social media, he estimates that about 1,000 Russians are chipped.

Most install work passes, he says, while some insert magnets or a compass implant that vibrates when they turn north.

“I like the idea of expanding the capabilities of the human body.”

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