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  Columnist: Edward Crabtree

Image credit: iStockPhoto

A curious incident at Voronezh

Posted on Saturday, 3 June, 2017 | 0 comments
Columnist: Edward Crabtree

Two military officers, sent out to make contact with the pilots of a crashed UFO on the outskirts of a city, confront an enormous robot-like being with a flattened head... Such is a sequence from the Russian film Attraction (Prityazheniye) that came out in 2017. It is, of course, science fiction. Nevertheless, followers of the Russian UFO scene will have experienced a sense of deja vu upon seeing it.

On 27th September 1989 in a city some 200 kilometres south of Moscow, a mass sighting of a landed UFO occurred, and one which featured just such a giant creature.

Sensational account.

Voronezh is an industrial centre of about a million people which lies on the river of the same name. It is proud of its modern Chernovski bridge which leads over the river onto Rostov-on-the Don and the reconstructed galleon on the riverbank. Like many a Russian town Voronezh also boasts a Victory Square and several parks.

It was in one such park, a park in the south of the city now called Yuzhny Park, that a group of children were playing football. At around half past six the children – including Vasya Surin, Zhenya Blinov, Julia Shokolova and Sergei Makarov beheld a pink glow in the sky which then resolved into an illuminated sphere. Now glowing red and whistling, this extended four supports and lowered itself onto the park grounds.

The ship disgorged a 9-foot tall humanoid with a flat pin-like head. This appeared to show three eyes, one of which was red and revolving. Accompanying this was a two-foot box-like robot on two legs and with a row of buttons along its front. Indifferent to the onlookers – quite a crowd had now gathered, including adults from a nearby bus stop – the odd couple began to reconnoitre the park, perhaps collecting samples.

However, when one of the boys screamed the entities returned to their vehicle and took leave. Before long they were back. This time one of them was armed with a tubular 'pistol'. When one of the boys tried standing in the way of it the creature aimed it at him and the boy disappeared (later to re-appear shaken but unharmed). The crowd scattered.

This tale, while awkward in its high-strangeness content, received coverage from the respected Telegraph Association of the Soviet Union (T.A.S.S.) and thus a legend was born: The St Louis Post Dispatch got hold of the scoop and not long after, on October 11th of that year, the New York Times wrote it up. Thereafter the Giant Pinheads of Voronezh became celebrities in British tabloids like the Daily Star and the incident would later be treated to a fair review on the Discovery Channel.

Fake news?

Pravda, however, declined to publish the story, and much of the American coverage of it was of the 'oh, those crazy Russians' variety. Indeed, the account seems as nebulous as the Milky Way when looked at.

Some versions of the Voronezh case tell of three incidents taking place between the 24th and 29th of September and descriptions of the object and its occupants differ. Some relate how the UFO was spherical, for others it was a disc and even banana shaped. Some variants add another humanoid to the two visitors and at least one witness – a Denis Murzenko –speaks of a four and a half foot high humanoid.

The children’s sketches of the object feature a questionable detail. The ship sports an insignia which is similar to a discredited UFO photo known as the UMMO saucer. (Then again, it could be the Cyrillic letter 'zhe' that ends the name Voronezh).

Then one also comes across claims that the vanishing boy – who is never named – was in fact abducted. Furthermore there are suggestions that 'electromagnetic' after-effects remained in the area and that these were investigated by dowsing.

Lily Rothman, history and archives editor for Time is among those who take the view that the story was a product of a demob happy press in the early years of glasnost (Time, October 9th 2014).

Without doubt 1989 was a tumultuous year for Russia. The first open elections had been held there that spring and the very existence of the Soviet Union was being challenged as former soviet states demanded their own autonomy. The Russian people had much need for diversion in that year...

Ring of truth?

Despite these doubts there exist indications that the Voronezh incident could constitute a classic Close Encounter of the Third Kind. Some of the witnesses are credible and include a police lieutenant – Sergei Matveyev and a local academic Genrikh Silanov. Reputable journalists on UFO issues have taken the matter seriously: Paul Stonehill, the world’s expert on the East European side to the UFO phenomena has written on it as has the long standing researcher Peter Robbins. Then none other than Jacques Vallee was prompted to visit Russia in 1990 because of this report.

The extravagant details are not without precedent also. In 1977 the Ministry of Defence investigated a case in which six children, aged between 9 and 10 claimed to have seen a craft land and a silver suited being walk around the vicinity of their school in Broadhaven near Haverford west in South Wales in Britain.

The behaviour of the UFO occupants – ignoring the humans an only taking evasive action when challenged - is very typical of many CE3 scenarios. Even the curious detail of the tube pistol draws parallel with some previous encounters.

Furthermore the stage for this was provincial Soviet Russia: a nation in which the screening of American movies was still something of an event and the first McDonalds had yet to open. Ordinary people had yet to be exposed too much UFO-lore.

To lend further weight to the tale, it all took place against the backdrop of a global UFO flap. Oklahoma had a spate of sightings in October of that year whilst over in Belgium there appeared a notorious series of accounts of low flying triangular craft. Within Russia itself glowing balls were witnessed over the Volagda region in April and June of that year. Then in Konantsevo on June 6th some children reported watching a spherical object come to rest on a meadow and from it a 'headless' creature emerge...


Last December I boarded a train that took me on a thirteen-hour journey from Moscow to Voronezh, where I stayed for two nights. I found the town to be rather humdrum and the references to the above tale that I hoped too find in brochures or museums were not in evidence. The two young women who worked at the reception in the hotel in which I stopped professed complete ignorance of the matter. It is as though the whole mystery has been airbrushed from local history.

Nevertheless those children who were at the centre of the story must now be in their thirties. I may have even passed them in the street unawares.

Edward Crabtree


Before It’s News: 'Aliens Shooting Kids: The Voronezh UFO Incident'(March 2nd, 2015)
Robbins, Peter 'Voronezh: A Personal Re-Appraisal of Russia’s CE3 Incident in, November 6th 2009
Rothman, Lily 'Why Aliens Landed in Russia 25 Years Ago', Time. October 9th 2019
Think Anomalous (Youtube) , May 1st 2016.
Unsolved Mysteries of the world Blogspot, Tripzibit (February 19th 2010)

Article Copyright© Edward Crabtree - reproduced with permission.

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