- Response To Russian And American Debunkers
- By Paul Stonehill <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Re: Exclusive: Russian UFO Research Revealed
- By Jim Oberg - Special to SPACE.com
- I have studied Soviet ufology for many years; while living
in the Soviet Ukraine, and after my emigration to the West. My contacts
with Soviet ufologists precede the Afghan War; as for eyewitnesses, back
in the 1960s I talked to former Soviet military pilots, who observed unidentified
flying phenomena, The Russian UFOLOGY Research Center, a research entity
I'd formed in 1991 (profiled in October 1993 issue of OMNI magazine) has
for years collected accounts of sightings in the former USSR.
- Some reports came in long before the Soviet Union collapsed.
There are accounts from Soviet military pilots, sailors; files of the KGB
released in 1992; and much more. THE SOVIET UFO FILES, published in 1998,
authored by Paul Stonehill, and reviewed by Philip Mantle, contains much
information heretofore unavailable in the West. Another book is in the
works, as even more information has become available. Mr. Mantle is also
a tremendous source on Russian ufology, well-known in the CIS.
- Messers Platov and Migulin have consistently debunked
UFO sightings, whether under the ancien regime, or after the break-up of
the USSR. Mr. Sokolov is by no means final authority on Soviet UFOs. We
knew about the SETKA research for years; there were other research projects
conducted in the USSR, too. Much more important Soviet military officials
have reported UFO sightings and discussed them in the media, during the
perestroika period. They did not do it for money. Even Mr. Oberg should
know that; I have my doubts whether he would admit it even to himself.
Those cases that were hoaxes have been discussed in my book. But one cannot
wish away UFOs, nor can one explain them away through historical materialism
and Marxist_Leninist ideology. Russia is free today: people are free to
discuss UFOs; military veterans I have corresponded with did not do it
for money; shame on those who cast such shameful explanation on people
who just want to reveal long-forbidden cases.
- We have accounts of cosmomauts, scientists, military
and intelligence officals, veterans of Soviet military conflicts, and many
others. UFOs have been reported consistently in the USSR; Soviet Communist
government disliked the unruly visitors, and did its best to cover-up sightings,
or explain them away, using D. Menzel's methods.
- I have always been surprised that any attempts of an
independent research of Soviet UFOs came under fierce attack from debunkers.
Why? Are we stepping on someone's toes? Are we daring to go where we sould
not be allowed? Who decides the access? Former Soviet scientific officialdom,
devoted Marxist-Leninists, who denied others the opportunity to learn,
to access forbidden files? Mr. Oberg? UFOs were officially banned from
being mentioned in the USSR's media until Mr. Gorbachev removed the ban
in 1989. Who is trying to gag researchers today?
- On behalf of my Russian, Ukrainian, Georgian and other
colleagues in the countires that once had comprised the USSR, I assure
debunkers wherever they may be that the research will go on. We have yet
to uncover more files and sources. We have yet to find more explanations.
We have yet to talk to many eyewitnesses who have been silent heretofore.
- Paul Stonehill Russian Ufology Research Center California
- In an special report obtained by SPACE.com, two of Russia's
leading UFO investigators have summarized the results of the Soviet Union's
official 13-year study of UFO reports.
- They maintain that the Western media claims of "secret
KGB files" and "captured aliens" are untrue.
- "One can hardly imagine a greater absurdity,"
they write, although they do admit that their own research program (1978-1990)
was indeed classified "SECRET" at the time and that there remained
cases that could not be explained.
- The investigators, Dr. Yuliy Platov of the Academy of
Sciences and Colonel Boris Sokolov of the Ministry of Defense, wrote up
their conclusions for an issue of the official Reports of the Academy of
Sciences journal, published in Moscow. Dr. Platov forwarded an advance
copy of the report to SPACE.com.
- "Many people are the eyewitnesses of strange things,"
the writers report, "which cannot always be precisely identified with
natural or man-made effects. However, this amount is very insignificant,
and from this there does not follow even a 'hint' of the probable interference
of extraterrestrial forces into our lives."
- In a brief background for the project, Platov and Sokolov
describe how the mass UFO sighting of September 20, 1977, over the northwestern
city of Petrozavodsk and elsewhere, sparked high-level public and official
interest in UFOs. Two parallel studies, one within the civilian scientific
establishment and one within the military, were set up to run for the following
13 years. The civilian team actually continued formal investigations until
1996, Platov reveals.
- The official groups did not use the term "UFO"
(or "NLO" in Russian). Instead, they referred to "paranormal
phenomena." But everyone involved in the project knew exactly what
this meant -- any apparently unexplainable aerial apparitions.
- Military secrets
- Platov and Sokolov explain that from the start, the teams
"assumed a high probability of a military-technical origin of the
observed strange effects."
- This was based in large part on the iron-clad identification
of the "Petrozavodsk UFO" with the launching of a spy satellite
from a secret nearby base. But this factor dictated that the study be kept
secret because most of the suspected causes were already military secrets.
- Another reason for secrecy was "to decrease a public
resonance" regarding the reality of UFOs -- a "resonance"
that would only grow if the government's formal interest were known.
- Finally, there was the possibility of military application
of discoveries regarding some of the perceived properties of UFOs such
as radar invisibility and high maneuverability.
- Sokolov himself is widely quoted on Internet UFO pages
endorsing this last possible benefit of UFO research. However, his more
prosaic explanations for some "classic" Russian UFO cases failed
to show up on several search engines I tried.
- The biggest UFO network ever
- In January 1980, the Soviet Ministry of Defense issued
a directive to all military forces to report "any inexplicable, exotic,
extraordinary phenomenon". Sokolov described how this essentially
converted millions of military personnel across one sixth of the Earth's
surface into a sensory network for UFOs. "It is not likely that anybody
could organize such a large-scale research," he boasted, "and
practically with no financing."
- Over the course of more than a decade, Platov's and Sokolov's
teams together collected and analyzed about 3,000 detailed messages, covering
about 400 individual events.
- A pattern soon emerged.
- "Practically all the mass night observations of
UFOs were unambiguously identified as the effects accompanying the launches
of rockets or tests of aerospace equipment," the report concludes.
These sightings were mainly associated with activity at the secret rocket
base at Plesetsk, north of Moscow.
- In about 10-12 percent of the reports, they also identified
another category of "flying objects," or as they clarified it,
"floating objects." These were meteorological and scientific
balloons, which sometimes acted in unexpected ways and were easily misperceived
by ground personnel and by pilots.
- Specifically, Platov and Migulin describe events on June
3, 1982, near Chita in southern Siberia, and on September 13, 1982, on
the far-eastern Chukhotskiy Penninsula. In both cases, balloon launches
were recorded but the balloons reached a much greater altitude than usually
before bursting. Air defense units reacted in both cases by scrambling
interceptors to attack the UFOs.
- "The described episodes show that even experienced
pilots are not immune against errors in the evaluation of the size of observed
objects, the distances to them, and their identification with particular
phenomena," the report observes.
- The Ukrainian trigger
- The most sensational Russian UFO case of the 1980s involved
a story of UFOs nearly triggering nuclear war. This reportedly occurred
on October 5, 1982, at a missile base near Khmelitskiy in the Ukraine.
- One typical version of this event appeared on an ABC
Prime Time Live program which aired on American television in October,
1994. Host Diane Sawyer and correspondent David Ensor presented interviews
with former Russian military personnel who described a 900-foot-wide UFO
hovering over their missile base while their command consoles switched
themselves to "prepare to launch" for 15 seconds before returning
to normal. The location was given as Byelokoroviche, but it's the same
- Sokolov, who took part in the investigation which began
the very next day, presents a very different version in the new report.
- The eyewitness reports from more than 50 people, as documented
within hours of the sighting, described bright flashing objects on the
northern horizon, in the form of "a balloon." Within hours the
investigation team had located records of parachute flares and night-bombing
exercises occurring at another military base in precisely that direction
at precisely that time.
- "It should be added," Platov and Sokolov continue,
"that the fault of the operation of the command post equipment had
nothing to do with the observed phenomena, it just completely accidentally
coincided in time." The fault merely involved an indicator light,
and there was no evidence the missiles themselves were affected in any
way. Nevertheless, the missile base commander, while genuinely alarmed,
evidently found it more convenient to blame extraterrestrials rather than
his own maintenance troops for the scare.
- Nobody's abducting Russians
- The official investigators also point out a striking
absence of certain types of reports from their files. "In contrast
to numerous descriptions of various kinds of contacts with aliens,"
they write, "there has not been obtained, within the framework of
the project which involved the great observational potential of the army
and civilian organizations, any message about UFO landings, any message
about contacts with pilots of UFOs, any message about the abductions of
individuals by UFOs."
- "This means," they conclude, "that either
the territory of the USSR was, due to any reasons, closed for alien visitations
during, at least, 13 years, or that the hypothesis of an extraterrestrial
origin of UFOs is inconsistent. Any serious investigator of the problem
of UFOs should, at least, face this reality."
- Platov and Sokolov clearly are aware that popular press
reports, both in Russia and in the West, will undoubtedly still refer to
"Soviet UFO secrets." In the harsh economic conditions of post-Soviet
Russia, many people, especially military veterans, will continue to be
willing to tell any story that other people are willing to pay for.
- But their insider positions in one of Earth's greatest
government UFO investigations, and their evident lack of any motivation
aside from telling the truth as they found it, will make their report a
significant contribution to our understanding of what really has been happening
regarding this mysterious and fascinating subject..
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