Body Work

A growing number of Russians are 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. 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. Although it’s unclear how many biohackers there are in Russia, the movement is spreading, with social media forums, conferences and businesses springing up to cater to their needs.

Zaitsev, a programmer with a ducktail haircut, taught himself to insert chips, helped by the fact he’s a medical school dropout. The 28-year-old caught national attention in 2015 by taking the chip out of a Moscow metro pass, dissolving it in acetone and encasing it in silicone before inserting it into the back of his hand. The disc, about the size of a British one penny coin, is still visible but currently defunct — Zaitsev reprogrammed it with bank card details, only for the bank to close.

He also has magnets on his fingertips, mainly for party tricks. He says the biohacking movement is about using technology to facilitate concrete tasks.

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