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Origins of the Public UFO Controversy in the USSR

By Raymond A. Keller, PhD, a.k.a. “Cosmic Ray,” author of the international awards-winning Venus Rising Trilogy, published by Headline Books and available on, while supplies last

The public UFO controversy and debate in Russia actually began back in the mid-1960s.  Whatever Vladimir Putin and the Russians know about the true nature of UFOs today is due to the pioneering efforts of Soviet researchers in the mid-1960s.  Photo credit:  History Channel.

Lively Discussion on UFOs

            In the l March 1968 edition of the Aftenposten newspaper (Oslo, Norway), correspondent Johnny Flodman writes about a recent trip he made to the Soviet Union with the purpose of investigating the status of the UFO controversy in that immense nation.  Flodman spoke with numerous scientists throughout the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic, most notably in the Moscow area, to ascertain their respective opinions on the existence of flying saucers as interplanetary spaceships.  Most of those interviewed admitted that this was certainly within the realm of possibility; but none wanted their name to be published in any forthcoming article out of fear for any recriminations from the Soviet authorities.  It was pointed out to the Norwegian journalist that the official Communist Party line regarding UFOs, as echoed in the pronouncements of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, was that, “All reports of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) are just anti-scientific sensations and speculation.  The observed objects are all of well-known origin.” 

            Flodman arrived in the Soviet Union during a time when the communist government there was cracking down on the proliferation of UFO information from all sectors.  The 27 February 1968 issue of the Pravda newspaper (Moscow) bluntly castigated those in the Soviet media who, in the past, referenced any individuals who claim to have observed UFOs or anyone acting in some official or scientific capacity making statements to the effect that some UFOs might possibly be alien spacecraft.  This Pravda piece did note that the question of UFOs as being extraterrestrial vehicles of some sort was taken up in a special meeting of the Soviet Academy of Sciences’ Department of Physics.  However, the panel of convening scientists had established that, “The UFO reports were nothing other than propaganda of an anti-scientific, sensational character.  The speculations have absolutely no scientific basis….”

            The Norwegian reporter wondered if there was any one particular UFO incident or outspoken personality that might have sparked this barrage of censorship from the Soviet authorities.  He quickly learned that the prominent astronomer, Dr. Felix Yurievich Ziegel of the Institute of Aviation in Moscow, was the prime suspect, for he had recently revealed that about 200 mysterious objects had been observed, not just with the naked eye, but also on radar-screens, all across the nation in 1968.  Ziegel announced that a special commission had been set up to collect UFO reports and thoroughly investigate them.  But most importantly, he urged Soviet authorities to establish a closer collaboration with Western researchers of the UFO enigma in the hopes of arriving at answers much sooner. 

Kalyazin, Russia, 64-m radio telescope dish.  Photo credit:  European Space Agency. 

Signals Received

            On Monday, 12 April 1965, the Soviet Union’s official Tass News Agency reported that mysterious radio signals from outer space were regularly being received by a network of radio astronomers scattered throughout the various socialist republics.  The prominent American space science writer and ufologist, Otto Binder of New Jersey, strongly felt that this was a key event in the history of the Soviet Union, and the entire planet Earth, because the Tass report indicated that the radio signals “suggested to Russian astronomers that we are not alone in the universe.”  Binder also believed that the release of the Tass report on the fourth anniversary of the first manned space flight by the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin gave added weight to the subject of discovering intelligent life on other planets. 

            Empowered by a belief that outer space is populated by other intelligent beings, some of which developed the ability to transmit radio signals across the void, and perhaps even explore other worlds in spaceships, Mstislav Keldysh, the President of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, announced that, “It is now beyond doubt that man can work in space and eventually make interplanetary flights.”  If humankind’s destiny was to join with an intergalactic community, it was clear that someone within the political hierarchy of the Kremlin had made the decision that the Soviet Union should be leading the way in such a noble endeavor. 

            The Tass report pointed out that Soviet radio astronomers took note that the signals from outer space consisted of radio waves of varying strength, repeated regularly every 100 days, without fail.  The Tass journalist wrote that, “Such signals have been detected by scientists before; but the Soviet conviction that they have been created not by nature, but by reasonable beings, stems from the evidence that they are repeated at regular 100-day cycles.” 

Strange Aerial Encounter

            It was now becoming clear that once the genie was out of the bottle, it was going to be a difficult, if not an impossible task, of putting him back.  Insofar as the possible extraterrestrial radio signals, as well as Ziegel being forthcoming about the wider extent of UFO sightings across the Soviet Union, more and more citizens from all walks of life, including fellow scientists and persons in authority, were coming out publicly with declarations about their own encounters with the phenomenon. 

            The chief navigator of Soviet polar aviation, Valentin Akkuratov, once described his encounter with an elusive flying disc in the skies over northern climes to Felix Ziegel, Doctor of Science and Technology and Assistant Professor at the Moscow Aviation Institute, in the course of an informal meeting on the subject of UFOs in May 1967, held at this same academic establishment:

            “In 1956, while engaged in strategic ice reconnaissance in a TU-4 plane in the area of Cape Jesup, Greenland, we dropped down from the clouds to fair weather and suddenly noticed an unknown flying craft moving on our portside parallel to our course.  It looked very much like a large, pearl-colored lens with wavy, pulsating edges.  At first we thought it was an American aircraft of unknown design; and since we did not want to encounter it, we went into the clouds again.  After we had flown for 40 minutes toward Bear Island, the cloud cover ended abruptly.  It cleared ahead and on our portside we saw, once again, that same unknown craft.  Making up our minds to see it at close quarters, we changed our course abruptly and began the approach movement, informing our base at Amderma of the maneuver.  When we changed our course, the unknown flying machine followed suit and moved parallel at our speed.

            “After 15 to 18 minutes of flight, the unknown craft sharply altered its course, sped ahead of us and rose quickly until it disappeared in the blue sky.  We spotted no aerials, superstructure, wings or portholes on that disc.  Nor did we see any exhaust gases or condensation trail.  It flew at what seemed to us an impossible speed.” 

Dr. Felix Y. Ziegel (1920-1988) with drawing by witness of “light-bulb” UFO sighted at Sharapova Ohota on the outskirts of Moscow in 1977.  Photo credit: 

Radical Reassessment

            Writing in the June 1968 issue of Denmark’s UFO Contact magazine, Ziegel proposed that the unusual characteristics exhibited in the worldwide appearance of UFOs merited a “radical reassessment” of their nature and purpose on the part of the global scientific community.  As to the question of whether UFOs were transporting guests from other worlds, Ziegel opined:  “The recorded observations will serve to check hypotheses.  These hypotheses would not, in my opinion, attempt to explain the nature of UFOs in terms of familiar phenomena.  Judging by other surprises, nature has some in store for us here too, and we must be ready for perhaps a radical reassessment of values.”

            The Soviet scientist clarified that, “The hypothesis that UFOs originate in other worlds, that they are flying craft from other planets other than Earth, merits the most serious examination.  Observations show that UFOs behave ‘sensibly.’  In a group formation flight they maintain a pattern.  They are most often spotted over airfields, atomic stations and other very new engineering installations.  On encountering aircraft, they always maneuver so as to avoid direct contact.  A considerable list of these seemingly intelligent actions gives the impression that UFOs are investigating, perhaps even reconnoitering.”

            Ziegel wondered if it were more than mere coincidence that as the planet Mars was in closest proximity to the Earth, UFO reports substantially increased everywhere?



Editor’s Note:  If you would like to ask the Cosmic Ray any questions about Venus or life on other planets, do not hesitate to send him an e-mail at  The doctor will be appearing with Omnec Onec, the Ambassador from Venus, along with premier ufologist Laura Eisenhower, at the Promise Revealed Meet the Venusians Mt. Shasta Summer Conference, to be held Wednesday, 26 August 2020 through Sunday 30 August 2020 at the Siskiyou Masonic Lodge, Mount Shasta, California.  For event information or to purchase tickets, please call Rob Potter at (530) 925-3502.  Until then, in the profound words of Venusian Moon Base Clarion Commander Aura Rhanes, “Work, study, and meditate on all good things!”

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