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Edward Crabtree

UFOs: The view from modern Russia

August 15, 2016 | Comment icon 0 comments
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The city of Kolomna, found about 132 kilometres to the south of Moscow, despite being the oldest city in the Golden Ring, is otherwise quite run-of-the -mill. The population of around one and a half thousand are well served by a modern shopping complex and in a pedestrianised part of the centre there are the churches and monasteries so beloved by Russians, as well as a fort dating back to the 14th century. Otherwise Kolomna is one of the main producers of `pastilla`, a sweet confectionary akin to Turkish delight.

Throughout the last few years though the city has hosted unexplained lights in the sky. These were filmed by residents in March and October of 2015 and January of this year. Chinese lanterns? Well these illuminated structures seem to move of their own accord and others appear to be part of larger forms which just sit in the night sky (Judge for yourself: ).

A Brief History of Flying Plates.

During the last twelve years a process of declassifying documents pertaining to anomalous aerial phenomena has been afoot in France, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Ireland, Australia, the United Kingdom, Uruguay and... the Russian Federation (Keane, p-117). This also includes files from the pre-Gorbachev administrations (Donderi, p174).

So revelations are turning up in dribs and drabs, but it is already known that flying saucers (or as they say `flying plates` - letayooshaya taryelka) and UFOs (N.L.O – neopoznannoiy lyetayooshi obyekt) have also stunned and thrilled our Slavic cousins. Not only that, but Mother Russia could even lay claim to be the first to have met these visitors.

It was in 1927 that Leonid Kulik led the first official visit to an area which had, nineteen years earlier, suffered a blast which had been 185 times stronger than Hiroshima. Kulik, as a mineralogist who specialised in meteorites, was on the lookout for precious iron deposits. Instead the impact zone near the Stony Tunguska River in Siberia did not have the appearance of a bolide crater. To the modern viewer it looked more like the locale of a nuclear detonation.

In 1946, a year before Kenneth Arnold utter the phrase `flying saucer`, an eminent technologist called Alexander Kazantsev penned some science fantasy tales and articles inspired by the events at Tunguska. These proposed that the object could have been an alien spacecraft.

As evidence for this claim, which Arthur C. Clarke gave some time to and continues to be championed by the Ukranian investigator Vladimir Rubkin, there remain the facts that eyewitnesses described the object as looking like a `chimney`, that it seemed to change course twice and move at subsonic speeds. Modern scientists seem to be in agreement, nevertheless, that what took place was due to an asteroid or stony comet that burnt up on entry. If this is so, then we should be grateful that an undirected body came to strike such a sparsely populated part of the globe, or did not hit an ocean.

Prominent Russians also spoke of untoward structures in their skies quite before the post-war era of the UFO craze. Nikolai Roerich is best known as an explorer who acted as an ambassador for the Far East with his enchanting landscape paintings of the Himalayas and his diaries. In Altai-Himalaya (1929) we come across an entry for August 5th 1927 which concerns a memorable sighting which took place at 9:30 am when he was passing through the Kuknor district near the Humboldt Chain. He espied a `big and shiny` `huge oval` which was moving fast and changed direction from South to south East. He had time, however, to view the `shiny surface` of the thing through field glasses (see

That these sorts of conundrums would later draw attention from the very top of Soviet society is indicated by a disclosure made to two North American investigative journalists. George Knapp (who now hosts the radio show Coast-to Coast A.M) and Bryan Gresh (who was working for the Las Vegas based KLAS-TV at the time) journeyed to Russia in 1993 to meet up with the long standing UFO enthusiast Professor Valeriy P. Burdakov.

What Burdakov, who had been a scientist at the Moscow Aviation institute, told them was that he had befriended the founder of the Russian space programme, Sergie Kulyakov. Kulyakov, knowing of the latter’s interest in the UFO question arranged an invite to the Kremlin. There, in 1948, he spoke with J. V. Stalin. What transpired was that the government had been keeping their eyes on the matter, and had concluded that they were not American machines, nor posed a threat to the Soviet Union (Redfern, p-205).

Stalin’s conclusions would seem to be confirmed thirteen years later in another classic encounter. Rybinski, in the Yaroslavl region, is the location of a major hydroelectric station and also a military base. According to the broadcaster Richard M. Dolan, the staff there beheld a large craft above them one evening following a power cut. This then disengorged some smaller vehicles. These proved to be impervious to the missiles which they then shot at it with. The smaller craft simply re-entered the larger one and, as this took its leave, power was restored (Lueder, p-69-70).

Following a wave of mass sightings over Russia in 1967 the most prominent Russian UFO researcher Felix Zigel was allowed to appear on television to appeal to people to report their experiences to him. This they did, in droves.

Within three years a UFO incident would result in calamity. A large number of discs were viewed above the capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar in April 1970. Then later, on the 24th when a Russian bomber vanished in the same area hundreds of aircraft were dispatched to locate the plane. These found nothing but did report more flying discs this then resulted in a border skirmish with their Chinese neighbours with both sides blaming the other for incursions into their airspace (Lueder, p-69-70).

The Post-Soviet experience

Then in the January of 1986 `Russia’s Roswell` occurred. The inhabitants of Dalnegorsk in Primorski Krai saw a sphere crash into Mount Isvetkaya in the early evening. The nature of the metallic traces which were later discovered there by UFO enthusiasts are still debated to this day.

The most notorious Close Encounter of the Third Kind in Russian history happened just as Russia was in the throes of its post-communist transformation. The respectable TASS news agency related how on 29th September 1989 a mass of witnesses including children, people waiting at a nearby bus stop and Genrikh Silanov, head of the Geophysical Laboratory of that city watched as an unmistakeable craft descended on Levobereshniy Park in Voronezh, 300 miles to the south of Moscow. Huge robot-like entities exited the vehicle and they stretched their legs. Columnist Lily Rothman is among those who insist that it was just a case of journalists pushing the boundaries of their new found press freedoms by providing the kind of escapism needed at that difficult time for Russia (`Why aliens Landed in Russia 25 Years Ago`. Time Magazine, October 9th 2014).

One who might take issue with this is Colonel Marina Lavrentevna Popovich. Awarded the order of courage by Putin in 2007, she was a military test pilot and, since 1990, has come out in the open about how much the Russian authorities know about UFOs. In her publication UFO Glasnost (2003) and elsewhere she has alleged that Soviet satellites took unequivocal photos of saucer shaped craft.
Indeed the accounts, photos and films just keep on coming out of Russia. Moscow itself has not been immune. In July 2011 a number of glowing orbs, which changed colour from white to orange were filmed over the capital (Bainton, p-139).Then again in February of 2016 a man identified only as Timur posted a video of four red and white balls of light flying in rhombus formation over the Moscow night sky (International Business Times, February 6th 2016).

Surface glitter.

Moscow Times – Moscow’s English language newspaper (and voice of liberal America in Russia) took the surprise decision to run a front cover feature entitled `The Soviet X-Files` this year. (Moscow Times, March 31st 2016, Issue 5748). This focuses on the activities of `the network` which studied the phenomenon for 13 years. By 1990 this body had decided that there were at least 300 cases on their files which lay beyond mundane explanation.

Current UFO clubs include Nikolai Subbotin’s Russian UFO Research Station, which involves the ancient astronaut paradigm as a part of its remit, Kosmpopoisk (Space Search) Russian Scientific Organisation, directed by Vadim Chernobov which undertakes field trips to where encounters have taken place. Meanwhile the weekly newspaper Anomalniy Novosti (`Anomalous News`) has a regular feature called `All the UFO Secrets` which carries stories from Russia and beyond (The current issue, No30, 2016 has an article concerning an object seen over Choomay in the Kemerovskoi region).

There is even a tourist draw, erected in 2011 in the form of a statue made from depicting an alien. This is to be found between Perm and the Sverdlosk region which is also called `Zone-M` on account of a saucer flap which buzzed the residents of the village of Molebka in the early 1990s. Popular culture reflects this fascination as well: an up and coming Moscow-based `sci fi metal` band have impressed European audiences by singing, in English, about ET related themes, as can be seen in their first album SETI Evidence (Grailight productions, 2013).


Should you want a bit more substance then the go-to expert on anomalous aerial phenomena over Russia and Eastern Europe is a 55 year old Ukranian émigré called Paul Stonehill. The author of The Secret UFO Files (1988), he contends that the Tunguska event ensured that Russia was always open to the UFO phenomena and that even throughout the Cold War period there had been a `cosy` relationship between the Soviet Union and the West when it came to sharing knowledge on the issue. In particular, there was, he says, a window of opportunity between 1991 and 1992 when information on this was easy to get hold of.

Leslie Kean’s breakthrough book UFOs: Generals. Pilots and Government Officials go on the Record (2010) is less Amerocentric than many such studies containing. as it does, sections on South America and Iran. Nevertheless there is scant mention of the Russian dimension in it. Except for one thing. She refers to a released document in her possession which was written by a member of the UK Defence Intelligence staff and is dated 1993. This is a part of the paragraph:

"I am aware, from intelligence sources that xxxxx believes such phenomena exist and has a small team studying them (Kean, p-288-289)."

After some deliberation, Kean concludes that the redacted part of that sentence alludes to Russia.

Edward Crabtree.


Bainton, Roy The Mammoth Book of Unexplained Phenomena (London: Constable & Robertson Ltd, 2013)

Donderi, Don UFOs, ETs and Alien Abductions: A Scientist Looks at the Evidence (Charlottesville, USA: Hampton Roads Publishing company Inc, 2013)

Kean, Leslie UFOs: Generals. Pilots and Government Officials Go On the Record.

(New York: Three Rivers Press, 2010)

Lueder, Bret A UFO Hunter’s Guide (London: Watkins Publishing, 2012)

Redfern, Nicholas A Covert Agenda: The British Government’s UFO Top Secrets Exposed (London: Pocket Books, 1998)

Verma , Surendra The Tunguska Fireball: Solving One of the great Mysteries of the Twentieth Century (Cambridge, Icon Books, 2005) Comments (0)

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