- The image used in the front of this article is an artist’s concept of the UFO described in this event.
On Oct. 9, 1989, the then Soviet Union’s main press organ Tass published and distributed a story worldwide that reported a UFO landing in the Russian city of Voronezh and later a UFO abducting a child.
According to Tass, huge humanoids from 9 to 12 feet tall with small heads disembarked from the craft in the middle of a park in the early part of the evening.
The Associated Press newswire picked up the amazing story that stunned and terrorized some while giving the establishment another reason to laugh out loud and partake in an orgy of skepticism and ridicule.
But Tass reporters weren’t laughing:
“[Scientists] have identified the landing site and have found traces of aliens who made a short promenade around the park,” Tass reported. When the Western press contacted a Tass duty officer after the report was initially released to verify its veracity, he simply replied: “It is not April Fool’s today.”
But then several days later other major U.S. newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post added a child abduction to the story, which made the story even more controversial:
According to Tass, and a report today in the newspaper Sovetskaya Kultura, two boys and a girl from a local school – Vasya Surin, Zhenya Blinov and Yuliya Sholokhova – were playing in a park on the warm evening of Sept. 27 when suddenly, at half past six, ”they saw a pink shining in the sky and then spotted a ball of deep red color” about 10 yards in diameter. A crowd gathered, ”and they could clearly see a hatch opening in the lower part of the ball and a humanoid in the opening.”
A Stare Silences Boy
The three-eyed creature, about nine feet tall and fashionably dressed in silvery overalls and bronze boots and with a disk on its chest, disappeared, then landed and came out for a promenade with a companion and a robot.
The aliens seemed to communicate with each other, producing the mysterious appearance of a shining triangle, and activated the robot with a touch.
Terrified, a boy began to scream, but with a stare of the alien’s shining eyes, Tass said, the boy was silenced and paralyzed.
After a brief disappearance, the three returned, but this time one of the ”humanoids” had ”what looked like a gun” by his side – a tube about two feet long that it directed at a 16-year-old boy. The boy, whose name was not given in the report, promptly vanished, but reappeared after the alien embarked in the ball.
Vladimir A. Moiseyev, director of the regional health department, said in a telephone interview that despite reports of widespread fear in the city, none of the witnesses had applied for medical help. But he said that ”certainly we are planning to examine the children.” There was no explanation why, with the passing of two weeks, such an examination had not yet taken place. Report Treated Seriously
Mr. Moiseyev, like other authorities in Voronezh, the editors of Tass, and indeed many of its readers, treated the report as a serious scientific phenomenon. No extra men are assigned to patrol the area because the department is short-handed, said the duty officer at the local Interior Ministry department, who identified himself only by his last name, Larin, but he said troops would be dispatched ”if they appear again.”
Here are abstracts of articles from the New York Times and the Washington Post confirming the reports:
To confirm the event with trace evidence, A. Kuzovkin, a UFOlogist, told Socialist Industry he thought a 26-foot wide patch of scorched ground near to south Moscow was caused by UFO landing, however TASS reports said firefighters considered the scorched ground could have been caused simply by a haystack which was caused to ignite.
Still, as the embellished story gained worldwide traction, a coordinated effort to dispute it also gained steam, which was being pushed hard by the Soviet establishment:
Those Who Disputed the Veracity of the Article:
According to Wikipedia, The Soviet Scientific Commission ordered an inquiry into the alleged incident. According to Paul Kurtz writing in a 1990 volume of Skeptical Inquirer, the scientists in the Soviet Union who had studied the evidence included members of the “Voronezh Amateur Section for the Study of Abnormal Phenomena”, who visited the site a week after the alleged event and used “a form of ESP dowsing”. Regarding claims made in initial TASS reports of extraterrestrial rock found at the site, Genrikh Silanov of the Voronezh Geophysical Lab later stated it was a form of hematite commonly found in the Soviet Union, and told Socialist Industry , “don’t believe all you hear from Tass. We never gave them part of what they published.”
Though the area was found to have an above-average presence of the radioactive isotope cesium, vice-rector of the University of Voronezh Igor Sarotsev stated it was insignificant, saying that “the presence of a larger than normal quantity of the radioactive isotope cesium in the area of the alleged sighting did not constitute proof of a landing”, noting that “after Chernobyl, this kind of phenomenon has been found in many areas.”
Kutz noted a French Press Agency report of October 28 stated, “…There exists no verifiable proof of a landing by aliens in Voronezh. Sixteen radiometric analyses, 19 checks of the ground, 9 tests for micro-organisms, and 20 spectro-chemical measurements failed to uncover “any anomaly either in the earth or surrounding vegetation.”
Kurtz reported that Soviet evening news correspondent Vladimir Posner sent a film crew to Voronezh “but they could find no other “witnesses” except the children”, leading Posner to suggest “that the creative imagination of young children was perhaps at work. If so, this is not unlike many UFO cases in the United States.”
Regarding the wave of paranormal and UFO claims issuing from the Soviet Union in the 1980s and 1990s such as those from Voronezh, Kurtz cited a Time magazine October 23, 1989 issue that quotes a disillusioned Soviet party member who said, “They’ve been feeding us rubbish about the dreams of communism for years” and viewed the state sponsorship of psychic and UFO claims as “a new opiate for the masses.
Those who believe the original stories say that such a debunking campaign after the events is simply the powers-that-be’s attempt to cover up a startling reality that showed that Russian defenses were being penetrated at will by extraterrestrials — and therefore, no one was safe
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