MINSK, Belarus (AP) - A woman believed to be the oldest in the world celebrated her 116th birthday Wednesday in the former Soviet republic of Belarus.

"I'll drink to my own health with pleasure," said Hanna Barysevich, a former farm worker who lives in a house outside the Belarusian capital Minsk. "I'm tired of living already, but God still hasn't collected me," she said with a smile.

Barysevich was born on May 5, 1888, in the village of Buda, 60 kilometres east of Minsk, according to her passport. Her parents were poor, landless peasants.

"From my early childhood I didn't know anything but physical labour," said Barysevich, who never learned to read or write. She worked in a kolkhoz, or collective farm, until age 95, then moved to the house she shares with her 78-year-old daughter Nina.

Barysevich lived through the Bolshevik Revolution, two world wars and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The worst period for her was the reign of dictator Josef Stalin, during which her husband Ippolit was declared an "enemy of the people" for allegedly harming the collective farm, arrested and taken to Siberia. He was never heard from again.

She raised her three children on her own, including throughout the Second World War, when she used to take her family to the woods outside the village to hide from the Nazis.

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