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. 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.
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