Westerners were intrigued back in 1989 when the Soviet news agency, Tass, reported the claims of some school children from the city of Voronezh. A spectacular UFO landed in town, the children insisted, along with its ten-foot-tall occupant toting a tube-shaped gun. Scrutinizing the Tass report, the Western press assumed the Russians were letting off steam after years of censorship. Some UFO buffs in the United States called the episode a hoax, but one Western scientist ignored the ridicule and left for Moscow instead.
In January of 1990, Jacques Vallee, a computer scientists regarded by many as the world's major UFO researcher, held a week-long series of meetings with the Soviet Union's leading UFO lights. He met with a scientist who'd studied the mysterious explosion that had rattled the Tunguska region of Russia in 1908 and with an ex-Soviet Naval officer who detailed his UFO sightings by Navy personnel. But according to Vallee, the most compelling sighting was the one in Voronezh itself.
In his new book, UFO Chronicles of the Soviet Union (Ballantine, 1992), Vallee describes the cast of dozens--adults as well as children--who reportedly witnessed the spherical Voronezh craft, its three-eyed giant, and an accompanying robot. He also cites engineers who examined an imprint allegedly left by the craft, an object they claimed weighed 11 tons. While Vladimir Migulin, a member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, attributed the markings to a rocket launched from Volvograd, Vallee does not agree. "Migulin's skeptical attitude," he says, "is not very different from what you would get from our own National Academy of Science."
Why does Vallee believe the Soviet sightings are for real? The weight of the craft, he notes, was "in the range of estimates reached by French scientists studying physical markings left by UFO landings in France." And though the beings bore no resemblance to the familiar, short, Hollywood-style UFOnauts, they were similar to aliens reportedly seen "in a very similar case in Argentina in 1978."
Vallee's sojourn--and his ideas--have taken fellow UFOlogists by surprise. Some wonder how scientific the Russians really are, given that they regularly use dousing to gather information about UFO sites. "With all due respect," says Michael Swords, a professor at Western Michigan University and editor of the Journal of UFO Studies, "some Russians are questionable in terms of UFO research. They tend not to be very well disciplined, nor are they good at documenting their work." As for Vallee's book, Swords says "it sounds like 'What I Did on My Last Vacation.' Vallee may have met a lot of interesting people and heard a lot of interesting tales, but he doesn't document things properly, and if he has, he never seems to share it with anybody."
But Vallee insists the Russian findings are significant, in part because of the region's weak coverup system. "With the chaos spreading over the Soviet Union," Vallee explains, "I felt there was genuine information coming out from the witnesses."
Vallee supporter and experimental psychologist Richard Haines agrees that the French researcher is onto something real. Explaining the misunderstanding about Vallee's work, Haines says, "He's a theoretician. He doesn't claim to be a field investigator. And I think he has some very challenging ideas."
COPYRIGHT 1992 Omni Publications International Ltd.
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