Revisiting historical archives often brings forgotten tales back into light. One such forgotten tale comes from the height of the Cold War, where a different kind of race was happening – not just the race to space, but the investigation into unidentified flying objects (UFOs) within Soviet Russia. This story, first compiled in 1979 by David Reneke, offers a glimpse into a world veiled by political tensions and captivated by the enigmatic cosmos.

High-ranking Russian scientists like Dr. Mitrovan Zverev of the Cerro Cid Observatory and Professor Claurio Ruijl, the Director of the Cerro Calon Observatory, voiced their beliefs in the existence of extraterrestrial life. This notion was amplified by Dr. Felix Ziegel, a respected scientist at the Moscow Institute of Aviation. In 1967, he established a permanent UFO investigating section within the prestigious All-Union Cosmonautics Committee, marking an increased institutional interest in these phenomena.

Ziegel’s bold assertion, “We have well-documented sightings from every corner of the USSR. It’s hard to believe all are optical illusions or hallucinations,” paints a vivid picture of the multitude of sightings across the vast Russian landscapes.

The Russian press remained relatively silent on UFOs, with exceptions like Pravda occasionally reporting on the activities of American investigative bodies like the Condon Committee. However, the curtain was lifted slightly when both SPUTNIK magazine and The New York Times published an interview with Dr. Ziegel in December 1967. He confirmed that Russia, like many other nations, was grappling with the presence of UFOs in its airspace.

Public interest piqued when Anatoly Blagonravov, the President of the Cosmonaut Committee, and Vice President Dr. Felix Ziegel appeared on Russian TV in November 1967. Dr. Ziegel revealed sketches and photographs of unidentified flying objects seen over the Caucasus that year.

Russia’s modern record of UFO sightings dates back to May 1946 when accounts of saucer-shaped flying objects moving at tremendous speeds began to surface. These sightings were reported by an array of observers, from pilots in the air to farmers on the ground, prompting the Soviet Air Force to compile dossiers on the phenomena.

As the years went by, waves of sightings flooded in, rivalling previous records. By the end of the 1950s, international agencies like Reuters and Tass were reporting on numerous UFO landings in the Soviet Republics of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Some reports even spoke of encounters with occupants of these unidentified crafts.


The frequency of sightings soared, as reported by the Soviet Weekly in early 1968, stating that there had been over 200 credible UFO sightings the previous year in South Russia alone. Dr. Ziegel’s interview with the Barcelona newspaper EL CORREO CATALAN further augmented the intrigue when he revealed that certain metal fragments of an unknown composition had been found in Russia, mentioning the Karelha crater.

The accounts of UFO sightings in Russia are numerous and varied, involving entities as diverse as astronauts, pilots, and common citizens. Some of the most noteworthy reports include:

The Spring of 1959 was an extraordinary period in the Soviet city of Sverdlousk, now known as Yekaterinburg. The city is deeply intertwined with Russia’s scientific and military history, housing numerous industrial complexes and, notably, a significant Russian rocket base. It was here, amidst the frigid weather and pristine snow, that an eerie incident unfolded, sending a ripple of panic through the base. Saucer-shaped UFOs, silent and unwavering, hovered over the launching pads for an entire day. The base’s radar systems confirmed the objects’ presence, their unexpected arrival triggering alarm amongst the military personnel. This sighting, a stark departure from the norm, raised many questions – were these foreign spying devices, or was their origin far more extraterrestrial? The objects remained an enigma, vanishing as mysteriously as they appeared, but leaving behind a heightened sense of intrigue and fear.

On June 18, 1963, a unique encounter happened that would etch itself in the annals of cosmic history. Astronaut Valeri Bykovsky, one of Russia’s stalwarts in space exploration, was orbiting Earth in the Vostok 5 spacecraft. Amid the serenity of space, Bykovsky noticed something unusual trailing his capsule. The object was disc-like, distinctly contrasting the backdrop of the infinite cosmos with its well-defined form. For the astronaut, this was a surreal experience. Here he was, alone in space, being followed by an unknown entity that bore no resemblance to any known spacecraft. Despite being in uncharted territory, Bykovsky remained composed, carefully documenting the peculiar encounter. The disc-like object, after tailing his capsule for some time, changed direction abruptly and disappeared, leaving behind more questions than answers.

October 11, 1964, marked another pivotal moment in Russia’s history with UFO encounters. The Voskhod 1 spacecraft, a beacon of Soviet space exploration, carried with it three crew members on a mission to orbit the Earth. The mission was progressing as planned, with the spacecraft dutifully following its predetermined path. However, things took a surprising turn when the crew sighted a cylindrical object approximately a mile from their spacecraft. The object’s proximity was cause for alarm, and the crew, seasoned yet unprepared for such an encounter, were at a loss to identify the object. Soon after this sighting, the spacecraft’s navigation system, crucial for the crew’s return, malfunctioned. The system’s abrupt failure following the sighting led many to question if the unidentified object was the cause. With their automatic navigation system rendered useless, the cosmonauts had no choice but to guide Voskhod 1 back to Earth manually, adding another layer of complexity to their extraordinary journey. This occurrence underscored the urgent need for increased research and understanding of these inexplicable phenomena.

The summer of 1961 was a time of tense anticipation in the city of Irkutsk, Siberia. A sense of wonder and curiosity had gripped the local residents as a spaceship was due to launch from a nearby cosmodrome. Among the bystanders was a man, whose name has been lost to history, armed with a camera and a passion for capturing this historic event.

On that fateful August day, the man set out early, finding a vantage point from where he could get an unobstructed view of the launch. As the spacecraft burst into the sky, he began taking photographs, his camera clicking away as it immortalized the vehicle’s majestic ascent. Suddenly, an unexpected spectacle unfolded before him. A UFO, appearing out of nowhere, hovered in the sky. This was no ordinary aircraft or known human technology. Its form was distinct, nothing like the man had ever seen before.

What happened next was even more astounding and chilling. The UFO emitted what appeared to be a beam of light, akin to a tractor beam often depicted in science fiction stories. This beam focused on the man, and in a blink, he was lifted from the ground. This incident, right out of a sci-fi movie, was allegedly witnessed by a handful of other spectators, who watched in disbelief as the man was raised off the earth and towards the UFO.

The object then disappeared as suddenly as it appeared, leaving behind a startled crowd and a story that would fuel countless debates and speculations for years to come. While some dismissed the incident as a figment of overactive imagination or mass hysteria, others firmly believed in the man’s close encounter. The incident added yet another layer of complexity to Russia’s tryst with UFOs and extraterrestrial phenomena. It serves as a stark reminder of the countless mysteries that the universe holds, many of which we are yet to fully comprehend.

Unidentified objects were seen impacting the operations of aircraft, such as the incident on September 29, 1967, where a TU-104 aircraft flying over Ukraine experienced engine failure when an unidentified object appeared above it.

While public proclamations about UFO sightings remain sparse, the troves of reports suggest a profound interest in this phenomenon within the Russian scientific community. As we delve into the archives and bring these captivating accounts back to light, it’s clear that Russia’s history with UFOs forms a rich tapestry of cosmic intrigue that continues to fascinate, as we inch closer to uncovering the mysteries of the universe.

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[…] to face a phenomenon that would challenge the conventional, thrusting him into the spotlight of UFO enthusiasts and skeptics […]