KGB Files Show

CSICOP's Response to TNT's KGB UFO Files

James Oberg, CSICOP fellow, science writer, space consultant for
ABC News and former NASA engineer provides his commentary on
last night's TNT special "SECRET KGB UFO FILES."

 Promotional background on the show can be found at

  http://tnt.turner.com/kgb/frame_index.html
 

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________________________________________________________________
 

James Oberg

 The TNT Special on "Secret KGB UFO Files" last night didn't
make reference to any of the classic space and missile
"pseudo-UFOs" for which Western ufologists still endorse the old
Soviet government cover-ups and camouflages about. So it wasn't
very related to "space activity".

 Except -- one sequence of scenes purporting to be "Declassified
Soviet top secret footage" of their rocket tests, which actually
showed NASA Space Shuttle SRB re-qualification test footage from
1987-8 (you can see the SRB in its horizontal test position
during the test firing). This misrepresentation seemed typical
of the rest of the show, which also kept promoting the 1908
Tunguska explosion as "the Russian Roswell" and presenting it as
an unsolved mystery. Also, twice some Russians described how
some recovered crashed UFO debris had been sent "to the base in
Mytishchi," indirectly referring to the organization now known
as the "Energiya Rocket and Space Corporation" (the small north
Moscow suburbs of Mytishchi and Podlipki became 'Kaliningrad,'
now the city of "Korolev"). If the nearly bankrupt Energiya
management had UFO samples available, their financial situation
would look a WHOLE lot different than it does now!

 Cautious skepticism are especially called for when you read the
"fine print" disclaimers.  At the beginning of the show a big
message flashed up: "What you are about to see may or may not be
true." And at the end, two screens full of warning messages were
even more to the point. One paragraph read: "The Producers
disclaim and do not guarantee the accuracy or truthfulness [of]
any of the documentation or materials that have been provided by
any source. . . . The materials and opinion presented on this
program including documents, film, photo, or video footage come
from the sources and are not the responsibility of the
Producers...This production is produced solely for entertainment
purposes only and no other use is authorized."

 They couldn't have been more explicit in their announcement
that the whole series of episodes about the recovery of a
crashed flying saucer in 1969 near Sverdlovsk, and a subsequent
autopsy (following which three of the four medical workers die
the same day from "cerebral hemorrhages") was a made-up story
with posed footage (as with the infamous Roswell autopsy, these
scenes involved motion picture film but never showed any still
photographers getting high-quality imagery), "hidden camera"
views of the purchase of top-secret confirmatory documents
($10,000 cash changing hands), and a string of sincere but
typical self-deluded Russian UFOlogists to vouch for the story.

 The American sources, with shaded faces and computer-altered
voices, were also amusing, especially a guy who claimed to have
gone to work for the CIA in 1989 "straight out of college" and
was immediately assigned to infiltrate the Russian UFO study
team. Sadder was the view of a sincere ex-NASA scientist named
Richard Haines who claimed he possessed "verified documents from
Stalin's time" that showed Soviet interest in the 1947 "Roswell
crashed saucer" -- alleged documents which he has never
published and which were not shown on this program.

 For entertainment purposes, including Roger Moore's narration,
this is a strong "B" production. For authenticity and
newsworthiness, the warning from the producers themselves should
be trusted, and it rates an "F".

 The following is an article by Oberg on Soviet UFO
investigations from OMNI
magazine, April 1994.

________________________________________________________________
 

Soviet Saucers (April 1994)
By James Oberg

 Day after day, the waves of UFOs returned to southern Russia.
Cossacks on horseback saw them high in the evening sky. Pilots
aboard commercial airliners and military interceptors chased and
dodged them. Astronomers at observatories in the Caucasus
Mountains noted their crescent shape and their fiery companions.

 It was the fall of 1967, and the Soviet Union was in the grip
of its first major UFO flap. The extraordinary tales, described
on Soviet television, reported in Soviet newspapers, and
analyzed in a private nationwide UFO study group soon took on a
life of their own.

 In one detailed account, an airliner crew from Voroshilovgrad
to Volgograd, flight 104, insisted that a UFO had hovered and
then maneuvered around their plane. According to Soviet UFO
enthusiast Felix Zigel, who compiled such accounts, the plane's
engines died and did not start up again until after the UFO had
disappeared, when the aircraft was only a half mile high in the
air.

 These tales and others were repeated in Western UFO books and
presented as important evidence at UFO hearings in the United
States Congress and in Britain's House of Lords. Then, as
suddenly as it had started, the wave of Russian UFO sightings
ceased. Private UFO groups were banned by the Soviet government,
and the subject was dropped from the controlled media even as it
spread wildly in the samizdat, the underground Russian press.

 But the phenomenon was not forgotten. Years later, astronomer
Lev Gindilis and a team of investigators from the Academy of
Sciences in Moscow assessed Zigel's UFO files, analyzing
statistics from what they said was "the repetitive motion" of
the objects Zigel described. In 1979, the "Gindilis Report" was
released and distributed around the world. It concluded that no
known natural or manmade stimulus could account for these
"anomalous atmospheric phenomena." Something truly extraordinary
and truly alien must have occurred.

 But it was too good to be true. Like many other official Soviet
government reports, the Gindilis Report turned out to be
counterfeit science. In effect, and probably in intent, it
served to cover up one of Moscow's greatest military secrets, an
illegal space-to-earth nuclear weapon.

 What the witnesses really saw back in those exciting days in
1967 were space vehicles all right, but not from some distant,
alien world. They were Russian missile warheads, placed in low
orbit under false registration names and then diverted back
toward the planet's surface after one circuit of the globe. As
they fireballed down toward a target zone near the lower Volga
River, they seared their way into the imaginations of startled
witnesses for hundreds of miles in all directions.

 Of course, U.S. intelligence agencies had also been watching
the tests, and they weren't fooled by the UFO smokescreen.
Pentagon experts soon dubbed this fearsome new weapon a
"fractional orbit bombardment system," or FOBS. Government
spokespeople in Washington denounced it as a first-strike weapon
designed to evade defensive radars. Since Moscow had recently
signed a solemn international treaty forbidding the orbiting of
nuclear weapons, the existence of this weapon (whose tests alone
did not violate the treaty) was a glaring advertisement of
contempt. So when Russian UFO witnesses concluded that they had
been seeing alien spaceships instead of treaty-busting weapons
tests, Soviet military officials were all too willing to permit
this illusion to prosper.

 Twenty-five years later, with the FOBS rockets long since
scrapped and the Soviet regime itself on the scrap heap of
history, the now-purposeless deception has maintained a
zombielike life of its own. Russian UFO literature continues to
issue ever more glorious accounts of the 1967 "crescent
spaceships." Mainstream Russian magazines, newspapers, and even
museum exhibits contain fanciful drawings of such shapes. Zigel
himself is revered as "the father of Soviet UFOlogy," an icon of
reliability and authenticity.

 But Zigel's and Gindilis's crescent craft are just one example
of the ridiculous notions and outrageous fictions Russian
UFOlogy has spawned. In 1977, for instance, Tass, the official
Russian news agency, carried a dispatch from the northwest
Russian port city of Petrozavodsk titled "Strange Natural
Phenomenon over Karelia." Wrote local correspondent Nikolay
Milov, "On September 20 at about 0400 a huge star suddenly
flared up in the dark sky, impulsively sending shafts of light
to the earth. This star moved slowly toward Petrozavodsk and,
spreading out over it in the form of a jellyfish, hung there,
showering the city with a multitude of very fine rays which
created an image of pouring rain."

 The "visitation" unleashed a torrent of rumors. People later
reported being awakened from deep sleep by telepathic messages.
Tiny holes were reportedly seen in windows and paving stones.
Cars were said to have stalled and computers to have crashed,
and witnesses smelled ozone.

 Soviet UFO enthusiasts rushed to embrace the case. "As far as I
am concerned," claimed science-fiction author Aleksandr
Kazantsev, "it was a spaceship from outer space, carrying out
reconnaissance." According to Dr. Vladimir Azhazha, "In my
opinion, what was seen over Petrozavodsk was either a UFO, a
carrier of high intelligence with crew and passengers, or it was
a field of energy created by such a UFO." Zigel, the dean of
Soviet UFOlogists, agreed it was a true UFO: "Without a
doubt--it had all the features."

 Sadly, the cause of all this mindless panic was a routine
rocket launching from the supersecret military space center at
Plesetsk in northwest Russia. The multiengined booster's
contrails, backlit by the dawn sun, seemed to split into
multiple glowing tentacles.

 In 1981, a midnight rocket launch from Plesetsk lit up the
skies of Moscow itself and sent the capital city's residents
into a blitz of unconstrained creativity. UFO expert Sergey
Bozhich's notebooks contain reports of numerous "independent"
UFO encounters during this ordinary launching. "Pilots of six
civil aircraft reported either a UFO in flight or a UFO
[attacking] their aircraft," he wrote. "At 1:30 a UFO attacked a
truck along the Ryazan Avenue in Moscow." One witness even
reported waking from a deep sleep to see a "scout ship" with a
glass cupola and small alien pilot cruising down his street.

 The pattern is clear. Time and again, secret launchings of
Russian rockets have unleashed avalanches of classic UFO
perceptions from the imaginative, excitable witnesses and their
careless interviewers. And consistent with its origins, Russian
UFO literature is still characterized by fantastic tales and an
utter lack of research into possible explanations. "I have no
doubts" is the most common figure of speech in the lexicon of
Russian UFOlogists, and they are doubtlessly sincere, if
arguably deluded. "Are UFOs real?" one was asked not long ago by
American documentary filmmaker Bryan Gresh. "My colleagues and I
don't even think that's a question," he responded. "Of course
they are real!"

 This sort of quasi-religious fervor just helps to fuel the
skepticism of the cautious observer. After all, if Russian
UFOlogists cannot or will not recognize the prosaic stimulus
behind these phony crescent UFOs of 1967 and the UFO "jellyfish"
of 1977, they may be incapable of solving any of the other
hundreds of ordinary (if rare) causes that account for at least
90 percent (if not 100 percent) of all UFO perceptions. Dozens
of major stimuli, and hundreds of minor ones, are constantly
giving rise to counterfeit UFO perceptions around the world.
Filtering out the residue of true UFOs from the pseudo UFOs
poses enormous challenges for investigators. Most Russian
UFOlogists appear unwilling to face this challenge.

 And the writings of prominent Russian UFO experts give ample
ground for more anxiety. Vladimir Azhazha, probably the leading
Russian UFO expert  of the 1990s, is an undeniable enthusiast of
UFO miracle stories. Some years ago, his favorite Western UFO
story involved a UFO attack on the Apollo 13 space capsule,
which he "disclosed" was carrying a secret atomic bomb to create
seismic waves on the moon.

 But it was carrying no such thing. The April 1970 explosion,
which disabled the craft and threatened the lives of the three
astronauts, was caused by a hardware malfunction. When
challenged recently by UFOlogist Antonio Huneeus, Azhazha made a
candid admission: "When I gave the lecture, I was a teenager in
UFOlogy and was intoxicated by the E.T. hypothesis and did not
recognize anything else. I would retell with pleasure everything
I read."

 Supposedly reformed, Azhazha then published a new book with a
glorious new Apollo-astronaut UFO story based this time on
forged photographs published in American tabloid newspapers. The
pictures show contrast-enhanced fuzzballs, photographic images
that had been sharpened in the photo lab. A fabricated "radio
conversation" in which the astronauts exclaim surprise at seeing
alien spaceships in a crater near their landing site later
appeared in another tabloid; it was patently bogus, too, based
on grossly misused space jargon. The story was long ago
abandoned by reputable Western UFOlogists, but Azhazha still
loves it and presents it as true.

 At a UFO conference in Albuquerque in 1992, Azhazha told
astonished Western colleagues that he had proof that 5,000
Russians had been abducted by UFOs and never returned to Earth.
When asked to defend this number, he disclosed that he took the
reported number of ordinary "missing persons" in the entire
Soviet Union, plotted the regions over which major UFO activity
had been reported, and then allocated those population
proportions of "missing" to the UFOs. It was simple, sincere,
and senseless, but the embarrassed American hosts (who had paid
his travel expenses) couldn't disagree too publicly lest their
waste of money be obvious.

 Russian UFOlogists claim to be careful. Azhazha himself has
written: "Nothing on faith! One must check, check, and eleven
times check in order to find an error!" But he doesn't seem to
know how, and neither do any of his colleagues. While their
sincerity and enthusiasm are not in doubt, their judgment,
balance, and accuracy should be.

 Why are people like Azhazha the best that Russia can offer?
Russians are heirs to a great, creative civilization, but they
are also emerging from a social era that has had profound
effects on their habits of thought. Today's Russians have lived
in a reality-deprived and judgment-atrophied culture for
generations. Once they were sufficiently brain benumbed by a
repressive communist regime to accept any and all propagandistic
idiocies fed to them, they were intellectually defenseless
against infections of other brain bunk as well.

 UFO enthusiasm prospers in this nurturing environment. And it's
not just UFO sightings that get conjured up by this fuzzy
thinking. Historical figures, preferably dead ones who cannot
disagree, are now constantly being portrayed as "secret UFO
believers."

 For example, in 1993, a slick new UFO magazine called AURA-Z
appeared in Moscow. Continuing the trend of tying now-dead space
heroes to UFO studies, the magazine featured two separate
interviews with contemporary experts concerning the role played
by Sergey Korolev, the founder of the Soviet missile and space
programs. It didn't bother the magazine at all that the two
stories were utterly inconsistent.

 In one article, rocket expert Valery Burdakov presented a
detailed account of how back in 1947 Stalin had ordered Korolev
to assess Soviet intelligence reports on the Roswell, New
Mexico, UFO crash. Korolev had reported back that the UFOs were
real but not dangerous, the article "revealed." Yet just seven
pages earlier, another expert named Lev Chulkov had written: "As
early as the beginning of the 1950s, Stalin ordered Korolev to
study the phenomenon of UFOs, but Korolev managed to avoid
fulfilling this task." Of course, both claims can't be true.
Besides, Korolev was a recently rehabilitated political prisoner
in 1947 and was thus hardly the type of trusted expert that
Stalin would have consulted.

 Behind all such distracting noise, the UFO problem remains a
fascinating and elusive puzzle, worthy of serious research. But
weeding out true UFOs from the overwhelming mass of "IFOs," or
identified flying objects, is a difficult, time-consuming task,
as Western UFOlogists have learned in the past half century.
Their new Russian colleagues so far show no indication that they
have even begun.

 "I haven't seen too much effort at that job," admits Antonio
Huneeus, one of the West's most perceptive pro-UFO observers of
Russian UFOlogy. "The Russians themselves keep knocking on my
door," Huneeus states. "They want to sell their stuff here." In
fact, given today's economic crisis in Russia, thousands of
people of all classes, but particularly from the military
services, are desperately seeking--or deliberately
creating--anything they can sell to Western buyers with bucks.
UFO files are one of the few exportable raw materials with a
market in the West, so there should be no surprise that there
are suddenly so many bizarre items now available and so few
Russians willing to be cautious or critical about them.

 If these Russian UFO delusions only affected their own
research, the silliness would do no worldwide harm. But the
intellectual infection has spread far beyond borders and
polluted UFO studies in other countries as well. These new
commercial conspiracies between Russian tall-tale sellers and
Western tall-tale tellers in the entertainment and
pseudodocumentary industry will make it much worse.

 The more serious Western UFOlogists, for instance, are
particularly embarrassed by their colleagues' naive, unbounded
enthusiasm for the 1967 "crescents" and the subsequent so-called
Gindilis Report, with Soviet thermonuclear weapons tests
masquerading as true UFOs. Dr. James McDonald, probably
America's top UFO expert of the 1960s, testified that the
crescents "cannot be readily explained in any conventional
terms." Dr. J. Allen Hynek, dean of American UFOlogy in the
1970s, reviewed the sightings and crowed, "It becomes very much
harder--in fact, from my personal viewpoint, impossible--to find
a trivial solution for all the UFO reports if one weighs and
considers the caliber of some of the witnesses." They were
scientists, pilots, engineers, and fellow astronomers, and Hynek
was absolutely certain they couldn't have been mistaken.

 Today's successor to McDonald and Hynek is retired space
scientist Richard Haines, American director of the joint United
States-Commonwealth of Independent States working group on UFOs,
the Aerial Anomaly Federation. Concerning the 1967 sightings, he
confidently wrote that "the reports represent currently unknown
phenomena, being completely different in nature from known
atmospheric optics effects or technical experiments in the
atmosphere."

 Another famous Russian pseudo-UFO case, called the "Cape
Kamenny UFO," has long been foolishly championed by Western UFO
experts. Top American UFOlogist Jacques Vallee cited this
encounter in a 1992 book as one of the best in the world. His
casebook coding scheme gave it the highest marks: "Firsthand
personal interview with the witness by a source of proven
reliability; site visited by a skilled analyst; and no
explanation possible, given the evidence."

 A graphic account of this UFO was given by American UFOlogist
William L. Moore based on casebooks compiled by Zigel. "On
December 3, [1967] at 3:04 p.m.," wrote Moore, "several crewmen
and passengers of an IL-18 aircraft on a test flight for the
State Scientific Institute of Civil Aviation sighted an
intensely bright object approaching them in the night sky."
Moore reported that the object "followed" the evasive turns of
the aircraft.

 But years later I discovered that the aircraft, passing near
Vorkuta in the northern Urals, had by chance been crossing the
flight path of the Kosmos-194 spy satellite during its ascent
from Plesetsk. The crew had unwittingly observed the rocket's
plumes and the separation of its strap-on boosters. All other
details of maneuvers were added in by their imaginations. Yet
this bogus UFO story is highlighted as authentic by nearly every
Western account of Russian UFOs in the last 20 years.

 Of course, not all Russian UFO reports spring from missile and
space events. Far from it! But those specific kinds of stimuli
are extremely well documented, unlike other traditional
pseudo-UFO stimuli such as balloons, experimental aircraft,
military and police helicopters, bolide fireballs, and so forth.
Thus, they can provide an unmatchable calibration test for the
ability of Russian UFOlogists to find solutions for these pseudo
UFOs.

 The Russian UFOlogists have failed. The ultimate test of the
Russians' ability to perform mature, reliable UFO research is
how they treat "the smoking gun" of Russian UFOlogy, the
Petrozavodsk "jellyfish" UFO of 1977. The "jellyfish" was a
brief wonder in the West before being quickly solved (by me) as
the launch of a rocket from Plesetsk. Western UFOlogists readily
accepted the explanation, but now it turns out that Russian UFO
experts never did. They have assembled a vast array of miracle
stories associated with the event, including reports of
telepathic messages and physical damage to the earth.

 But all this proves is that ordinary Russians love to embellish
stories and that Russian UFO researchers haven't a clue on how
to filter out such exaggerations from original perceptions. If
they cannot do it for such obviously bogus UFOs as Petrozavodsk,
how can they be expected to do it for less clear-cut ones?

 If the UFO mystery is to be solved, there is adequate data from
the rest of the world outside of Russia. Serious UFOlogists will
have to quarantine the obviously hopelessly infected UFO lore
from Russia and disregard it all. Some valuable data might be
lost, but the crippling effect of unconstrained crackpottery
would be avoided. Every decade or two, the question can be
reconsidered with a simple test: Do leading Russian UFOlogists
still insist on the alien nature of the 1967 crescent UFOs and
the 1977 "jellyfish" UFO? If so, slam the door on them again.

 Yet the temptation may be too great, especially for those who
are into what I call the "fairy tale mode" of modern UFO
study--those who believe the best cases are ones that happened
long ago and far away, and thus are forever immune from prosaic
solution. Russian UFO stories have turned out to be exactly
those kinds of fairy tales.

 And if the purpose of modern UFOlogy is only mystery worship
and obfuscation, only mind-boggling tall tales and
mind-stretching theorizing, then it will continue to feed on the
baseless bilge coming out of Russia while being insidiously and
unavoidably poisoned by it. The reality test, then, is not of
Russian UFOlogy, which has already failed, but of non-Russian
UFOlogy, where the issue remains in doubt.
 

 Editor's note: James Oberg, author of RED STAR IN ORBIT and
many other books, is an internationally recognized expert on the
Soviet space program.
 
 
 

I for one saw the show last night and had mixed feelings. TOO many people are TOO ready to
grab anything that will support the premise of secret UFO & Alien files, anctivities and coverups.
Although compelling data suggest there may be something to all of this, one must watch & listen with a open mind.

Some very interesting alleged government footage of Soviet and US Jets with UFOs around them was good. It appeared from the show that these could be verified as legitimate Gvmnt docuements.

There was an alleged alien autopsy and althugh it was much more realistic than the Santilli tape could ever hope to be,
there was still Nothing to verify or validate the sequence

The most time was spent going over some canisters of film that contained what was supposed to be
a military receovery of a crashed UFO. Here is a picture of the film. Click the image if you want to
go to the CSETI website OR TNT Promo where they are more extensive pictures

I think they should be verified
before they are called any thing ! Even James Bond (Roger More) claimed that they could be a hoax,
dis-information, a  training film, just more cold war garble.
 



 
 

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