SGP Personalia

 

 

 


Jordi Magraner (1958 - 2002)
June 10, 2004

Gregory Panchenko
June 8, 20088

Sagid Didanov ( 1931- 2002)
June 20, 2009

Eduard Jonich on his 75th birthday
May 20, 2011

Mukhamed Shomakhov  (1946 - 2008)
Decemberr 25, 2011



June 10, 2004

Jordi  Magraner  (1958 - 2002)

In the August 2002 Jordi Magraner, the Spanish zoologist, was murdered in North Pakistan while conducting fieldwork on unknown hominids. Since 1987 he worked in the Chitral region and was the first to do systematic research there. His expedition resulted in a number of findings including footprints, hair samples and eyewitness accounts.

The fieldwork methodology practised by Magraner promised to be highly successful if it had been continued for a longer time. The correctness of this style of working was one of the important conclusions reached by researchers in Eurasia during the last century: Tailored to budget restriction on time, personnel etc. the researcher chose a limited working area to achieve the highest possible precision in obtaining population size, migration etc. data. He or she worked for many years in the area, learned the local languages and dialects to gain the trust and friendship of local people which enabled a better understand of their psychology and values.

The differences between oriental and occidental thinking are normally totally undervalued and misunderstood. Herien lies one of the main causes of conflict between the two worlds in the present time. Oriental thinking ia also a prerequisite for the close coexistence of Homo sapiens and non-sapien hominids in this region and for the occasional lifelong relationship between members of both species, even today.

Magraner´s field investigation supplemented our knowledge about unknown hominids in Asia and it is to be hoped that his colleagues will continue his work. His death also shows how dangerous many potentially promising Eurasian research areas have become in the recent years. Magraner´s work on the question of unknown hominids is important enough, although unfinished due to his tragic fate, that it should never be forgotten


Andreas Braun, May 2004




June 8, 2008

Gregory Panchenko

Gregory Konstantinovich Panchenko [1] (*1966) is a biologist from the east Ukrainian metropolis Kharkov, where he studied at the Kharkov state university. Like many others he started his field work as a student in Dr. Marie-Jeanne Koffmanns team. According to her, he has participated in her expeditions in the Caucasus since 1984. [2]  But according to the journalist Matt Salusbury Panchenko first heard about Almasty during his military service in 1986 from Georgians who had seen it. He got Koffmann's confidence and became one of her closest young coworkers. His name first became known in the west through the publications of Dmitri Bayanov and Koffmann in 1992: According to them, he had in the Caucasus a night-time encounter with a creature, which is thought to have been a Almasty, near the village of Sarmakovo in Kabardino-Balkaria, in 1991. [3]

Today he belongs to the close circle of the Moscow “hominologists” around Dmitri Bayanov, Marie-Jeanne Koffmann, Vadim Makarov and Michael Trachtengerts and he is one of the few researchers of the younger generation who has access to all the results of more than 40 years of field research of this group and their coworkers in the former Soviet Union. This was also possible for him because he has explicitly followed the confidentiality policy of this group regarding selected field results and special Russian literature. Considering this knowledge and his education, Panchenko today must be considered one of the most important specialists for field work in the northern Caucasus, following Koffmann. Some results of his Caucasus expedition in 2005 he published in the German periodical Pterodactylus. He works in the same region as Koffmann and in close cooperation with her: In western Kabardino-Balkaria, mainly in the Zolsk district. According to Matt Salusbury, he directs a cryptozoological organisation in the Ukraine. He is a board member of the Moscow Russian Society of Cryptozoologists. [4]

In October 2007, he held a lecture in Great Britain about the Almasty in the Caucasus. His lecture contained mostly general statements about the ecology and ethology of these hominids, but he also made some significant statements, such as: ” […] But in the end of the 1990s […] we heard that in some regions the extinction of Almasty stopped.” Locals observed again juvenile specimen of Almasty. An unusual colar bone has been found by the group of  A. Sidorenko.[5] He further explained that he could hear the screams of the hominids four times – not only during one expedition. Panchenko lives since several years in Hannover / Niederachsen, Germany. According to Fortean Times, he is working there as a "recruiter of Russian science personnel". However, in Hannover he declared several times that he lives from his income as a writer of books and articles, which he publishes mainly in the Ukraine and Russia.

In the Ukraine, he is a well-known author of fantasy and science fiction literature. Short biographies outlining his writing activities may be found of the website of Zvedzdnij Most, an annual fantasy festival which takes place every year in Kharkov, and in the Russian Fantasy: Who is Who? He won a literature prize for his most recent book in this field: Gorizonty Oruzhija (Horizons of Weapons, 2007).[6]  He regularly participates in literature conferences and festivals of the fantasy and science fiction scene in Russia and Ukraine. Among others he held lectures at the fantasy festival Portal 2005 in Kiev and in May 2008 at the European Science Fiction convention Eurocon-2008 in Moscow. The subject of his lecture in Moscow was current German fantasy literature. He has also publishes on historical weapons and the art of fighting. Among others his articles may be found in Russian journals such as Real'nost' Fantastiki (Reality of Fantasy) Kempo, and Partner-Nord, a regular Russian-language journal published in Hannover. Some of his articles in this journal can be read in the website of Partner-Nord. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the new journal Ochevidnoe Neverojadnoe (Obviously Unbelievable) which appears in Kharkov in Russian language since April 2008. This first number contains articles on cryptozoology, flying saucers, futural architecture, "electrical tanks" and others.

In addition to his real name, he also publishes, among others, under the pseudonyms Christopher Lawrence McNamara [7], Isaak Bromberg [8] and Grigorij Urinson. Urinson is the last name of his father, Konstantin, with whom he lives together in Hannover.[9]  Together with his father and grandmother Panchenko arrived during the wave of Ukrainian immigration to Germany  from 1999-2001. He is registered under the name “Pachenko”  at this Hannover address.

Some years ago he has been looking for support for his field research in German cryptozoological circles. Regarding this search, he is to have said that he himself could observe Almasty "several times". He is the author of the book Catalogue of Monsters (2002) which considers the Almasty in the Caucasus, among other subjects. At the present, it is not known if additional publication on Almasty or other cryptids from him exist – possibly under pseudonym. Current internet research in this field also does not yield any results.

Andreas Braun, June 2008 - August 2010



[1]  Also written as "Grygoriy Panchenko", "Grigoriy Panchenko", "Grigorij Panchenko", "Grigory Panchenko"
[2]  Koffmann, Marie-Jeanne (1992) Comment on G. Panchenkos`s report Observation d'un hominoid relique
      au Caucase du Nord.
(unpublished) In: Archiv Bernard Heuvelmans, Musée de zoologie, Lausanne.
[3]  Bayanov, Dmitri. Bigfoot Co-op. Februar 1992. repub. in: Bayanov, Dmitri. 1996 In the footsteps of the
     Russian Snowman
. Moccow: Crypto-Logos.pp. 53-62.
      Koffmann, Marie-Jeanne. 1992. L’Almasty du Caucase. Mode de vie d’un hominoide.
      Archeologia
, 276, 1992. p. 62.
[4]  Bayanov, Dmitri. 1996. In the footsteps of the Russian Snowman. Moccow: Crypto-Logos. p. 53.
[5]  AnatolySidorenko is a teacher from the Donezk district of the eastern Ukraine and a close coworker of Koffmann's
      and Panchenko's fieldwork since many years. Probably it is the same colar bone Panchenko wrote about
      in 2005 in the German periodical Pterodactylus.
[6]  A collection of his books can be seen in books.imhonet.ru and ozon.ru.
      His newest books Bows and Crossbows in the Battle and Bate in the Fight. 5000 years of Battle
      came out in spring 2010
. Other texts by him can be read in the website Russkaja Fantastika
[7]  Among others, he published under this pseudonym the fantasy novel Gorez (Mountaineer). Volumes 1-2 (1993),
      and volumes 3-4 (1994) appeared in Russian language in together 80.000 copies.
[8]  Among others, he published under this pseudonym about himself in connection with Russian fantasy literature
      in the Russian-German journal Partner Nord. Furthermore he edited under his real name in 2009 the military-
      historical fantasy anthology Idu na my! Drang nakh...  in Russian language. He is one of the authors.
[9]  It is common to find that children were given the name of a gentile parent, because of the anti-Semitism in
      the Soviet Union.



didanov  

Sagid Didanov  (1931-2002)

During my stay in the northern Caucasus in 2008, I heard the news that Sagid Didanov had died in the city Baksan, Kabardino-Balkaria, in fall of 2002. This man should be remembered, because he supported the work of our study group and we are indebted to him for many informations about the history of field research in Kabardino-Balkaria and other hints.

His name was known from different publications because of his encounter with an Almasty, the Caucasus “wild man”. Currently this is probably the most publicized encounter from Kabardino-Balkaria.[1] As far as known today, this is where the most systematic field work of the Moscow “hominologists” has been happening since the 60s. Didanov also describes his encounter in Sylvain Pallix’ film Almasty. Yeti du Caucase. In this film a local artist drew the being that had been observed according to Didanov`s description. Furthermore, Sagid Didanov is the only Kabardinian eyewitness currently known of who published his encounter in a local newspaper of his home district himself.[2] Only vague information exists in the publications regarding the location of this encounter.[3] In order to determine the exact location, I visited him for the first time in August 1999 at his home in Baksan city. I met a friendly, mentally agile gentleman almost 70 years old, who helpfully answered all of my questions.

I learned that he had spent most of his life the village Sarmakovo, Zolsk district, where he lived in the village centre in Dr. Marie-Jeanne Koffmann’s close neighborhood. Since the 1962 until today Sarmakovo is the research center of the Moscow "hominologists" in the Caucasus. One of the first facts that emerged was that, in all of the publications I know of, his nickname “Dina” is given rather than his first name. He even signed his publication of his own encounter with “D. Didanov.” His real name was Sagid Medovich Didanov (on the photo with his granddaughter in 2000 in his home in Baksan). During my first talk with him, he described his encounter once again, at my wish: In the 1950s, he was spending the night with herders in a hut in the mountains. At night, a strange, hairy woman with long, disheveled hair came into the hut and ate from a kettle filled with meat and broth. Shocked, he asked the old herder lying next to him: “What was that?” The old man explained that he shouldn’t pay attention to this being. According to Didanov, this occurred in the Mushta valley, just as he had published himself. [4]

As he was describing his encounter, he mentioned what happened next, which not included in all the current known publications of this encounter: the old herder, who had seen the Almasty together with Didanov, announced that she would return in the coming night, which also happened. Didanov quotes him as saying the following words: “ […] And he said: `She’ll come again tomorrow. If we’re here, she’ll come every day […]. And the next day he said: `Today we cooked some meat, and there’s also bread, so she’ll definitely come.” [5]  According to Didanov, the Almasty also appeared in the second night. He explained: “On the second night, she came again, looked around attentively, saw the stove, took some meat, and quietly, quietly left.” He stressed that by then he wasn’t afraid like he was the first time, because he had expected her to appear. On the third day, he left the place. He did not have any further encounters. Didanov does not mention in his own article that the Almasty came again. When asked about this, he said that it did not seem important to him.[6]

For the field researcher who is searching for Almasty, a return to the same place is significant. Regarding the return of Almasty to a specific place, Koffmann writes the following: “The times in which the hominid consistently appears alone or in groups, usually attracted by a meal, occurs in the past […] Today, these stories are rare and are completely outside the patterns of our current statistics. In order to find him, there is one rule to follow: If an Almasty is seen in a certain place today, one only loses time when one waits on him, unless there are unusual circumstances.” [7] Alain and Katja Mahuzier quote Koffmann as follows: “Paradoxically, I said to my friends that one doesn’t need to follow or stalk an Almasty that was seen today, because he’ll maybe come again in two years or three months, but certainly not on the next day.” [8]

Koffmann’s close coworker since the early 1980s, Gregory Panchenko, has also expressed this opinion in his book Catalogue of Monsters (2002): "A paradox among the cryptozoologists who work in the Caucasus can be summed up in the following formulation: If some local observer saw an Almasty yesterday, he will probably not return to the area for a year. When – and even if – he returns is completely unknown."[9] The same he declared in a lecture he held in 2007 in the UK.[10]  But in a non published report about his encounter in the Kuruko valley in 1991[11], translated by Koffmann from Russian into French, Panchenko writes: “According to our knowledge of the ethology of the Almasty, we could expect further visits.” […] “We know that the Almasty will visit a certain place many times after another, but as soon as his visits end, that’s it for a long time.” [12]  In an intern publication of the Moscow Russian Society of Cryptozoologists (RSC) and not available for the public until 2005, Dr. Mikhail Trachtenherz, one of the vice presidents of the RSC, published recommendations for behaving after an encounter with a hominid that was a surprise: On the next day, the researcher should leave food at the encounter location. If the food isn’t taken, different food should be left at the same time the next day. Trachtenherz: “One can assume that the baiting method is one of the richest in perspective.[13]  According to questionnaires conducted on the Kabardinian and Balkarian population by the German study group, there are also cases today in which the Almasty visited a certain locality numerous times in a few days, particularly in connection with food.

According to Sagid Didanov, his publication I saw such a being  about his encounter in a local newspaper peaked also the interest of one of the powerful men of the former Soviet Union: Alexej Adshubei, the son-in-law of the Soviet Party - and State leader at the time, Nikita Khrushchev. At this time, Adshubei, was the editor of Izvestiya, one of the largest newspapers of the Soviet Union. Izvestiya also published messages about the “Snowman” from time to time. Adshubei was also one of Khrushchev’s advisers. [14]  After his publication, Didanov was invited by Alexej Adshubei to a government vacation house in the spa town Kislovodsk, about 18 miles from the location of Didanov´s encounter. Adshubei wanted to hear Didanov’s story himself. He encouraged Didanov to work on this more and catch a “Snowman”. Didanov quoted Adshubei with the following words: “If you catch him, we’ll invite you to Moscow, but not with the train or an airplane, but rather with your own escort.” [15]

Didanov also told of how, during the 1960s, a group of Mongolian scientists, under the direction of a  Ph.D., worked on the problem in Sarmakovo. At the time, Didanov lived on his lot with lots of bushes, in which sometimes strange noises could be heard at night. One of the Mongolians collected long hairs in the bushes in the yard, which were considered to be possible Almasty hair. A few years later, Didanov was visited by a Czech scientist. She asked him to show her the location of his encounter and he rode with her there. Additionally, he also told of his meetings with Koffmann, who invited him numerous times to participate in her field research. He remembered his last contact with her at the beginning of the 80s. Koffmann visited him at that time in his house in Baksan. She had information that a skull had been found near the village Psychokh near Baksan and she asked him to mediate between her and the locals - probably the discoverers.

I visited Didanov three times, but it was after my last talk with him that I became known of the publication from Petrov and Kudrjavtsev, Neanderthals alive? (1964), who visited Didanov in February 1964 in Sarmakovo. According to them, he placed the time of his encounter in “fall of last year”- in other words, starting from 1963. [16]  All other publications give 1950 as the year of his encounter. Because of Sagid Didanov’s dead, this discrepancy couldn’t be cleared up.

K. C. Beyer, May 2009


 1   The encounter has been published for example in: Kudrjavtsev, M.; Petrov, A.(1964) Neanderthals alive? Nauka i Religija, 11, pp. 61- 70 (in Russian);
      Green Beckley, Timothy (1970) Russia searches for the Abominable Snowman, Fate, April 1970, vol. 23, no. 4, issue 241, pp. 57-63;
      Mahuzier, Katja and Alain (1982) Les Mahuzier au Caucase. Presses de la cité, p. 86; Koffmann, Marie -Jeanne (1991) L'Almasty yeti du Caucase.
      Archeologia 269, p. 34; Anonymous (1994) Gruss mit dem Fuss vom Neandertaler. Illustrierte Wissenschaft. 3;
      Makarov, Vadim (2002) Atlas of the Snowman. Sputnik Company, Moscow, p. 57 (in Russian).
 2   Didanov, D. (1964) I saw such a being, Zarja Kommunisma, 86 (202) July 22, p. 4 (In Russian).
 3   Mushta is a sub valley of the Khazaut valley on the western border of Kabardino-Balkaria with Karachay-Circass. According to Koffmann (1992, note 7, p. 54)
      this yalley is a location of frequent encounters. A part of this valley is known as 'Dolina Narzanov' (Valley of the Narzan - a local mineral water).
      This was the location of the well known tracks found in March, 1978 (For more details on this found see: Footprints in the Northern Caucasus in 1978:
      Finder and circumstances). The distance between the locality of Didanov’s encounter and this 1978 tracks is about six miles. Koffmann’s description of
      Didanov’s encounter, published in Archeologia (1991) is a shortened translation of Didanov’s own publication in the local newspaper Zarja Kommunisma in 1964.
      Her translation in french does not include Didanov’s naming of the location of the encounter: Mushta valley. Instead of “Mushta” Koffmann
      wrote “… on the pastures of Elbrus”, which includes a territory of several hundred square kilometers.
 4   Talk with Sagid Didanov, tape recording from August 30, 2000.
 5    op. cit. (note 4).
 6    op. cit. (note 4).
 7    Koffmann, Marie-Jeanne (1992) L'Almasty du Caucase. Mode de vie d' un hominoide. Archeologia 276, p.63
 8    Mahuzier, Katja and Alain (1982) Les Mahuzier au Caucase. Presses de la cité, Paris, p. 86
 9    Panchenko, Gregory. 2002. Catalogue of Monsters, Olma Press, Moscow (in Russian).
10   Panchenko, Gregory. 2007. The Russian Snowman. Lecture in the UK.
11   From inhabitants of Sarmakovo it became known that Panchenko in summer 1992, one year after his encounter in the Kuruko valley,
       used sirup baits on several locations in the same valley.
12   Panchenko, Gregory. 1992.Observation of a relic hominoid in the northern Caucasus. Translated and with a comment by M.-J. Koffmann, p. 4 (in French, unpublished) Archives
       Bernard Heuvelmans. Musée de Zoologie, Lausanne,Switzerland
13   Trachtenherz, Mikhail in: Zeligman, E.; Rogov, V. 1990. Collection of Methodic Field Instructions for Field Work on the Problem of the Relic Hominoid. Teberda: Selenchukskaja.
       (in Russian). The complete content of this brochure has been published in www.alamas.ru.
14    Montefiore, Simon Sebag. 2004. Stalin. The court of the red tsar. London: Phoenix, p. 566.
15    op.cit. (note 4).
16    Kudrjavtsev,M.; Petrov, A. (1964) Neanderthals alive? Nauka i Religija, 11, pp. 61- 70 (in Russian).
    

 




Eduard Jonich on his 75th birthday

                                                                      
Jonich2
                                                                     


In 2010, the journalist, mountain guide and member of the Russian Geographical Society, Eduard Jonich, celebrated his 75th birthday in Terskol in Kabardino-Balkaria`s Elbrus district. Our study group  has been friends with him for many years and thanks him for lots of information and tips. He was born in Moscow and spent a large part of his life in the northern central Caucasus, where he lives until today. In Moscow he completed an apprenticeship as a journalist in the 1950s.  In the early 1960s, he arrived in Kabardino-Balkaria and worked here from that point on as a journalist and mountain  guide in the upper Baksan valley, Elbrus district. He became one of the best non-local  experts for the Elbrus region. Even in the early 60s he heard stories about the local wildmen – Almasty or Almostu – from the local Balkarians.  He began to develop an interest in this subject and had his own close encounter in 1969, which was his inspiration to collect such stories. In May, 1969, Jonich worked for multiple days in the Alpine camp Dzhan-Dugan in the Adyl-Su valley, a side valley of the upper Baksan.  At that time there were no tourists or alpinists in the camp, only some guards. Over several days, Jonich built  large tourist tents in a clearing a few hundred meters above the camp, in anticipation of the coming season.  He spent the evenings at this location, alone in front of a campfire.

On the fourth or fifth evening, he sat alone in front of the fire.  It was already getting dusky.  The fire had almost gone out.  Suddenly, he heard some twigs breaking close to him.  He didn’t think anything of it, because he thought it was cows grazing close to him.  Suddenly, a few meters to his side, he saw a large, hairy, human-like being headed toward the fire. He realized immediately this was an Almasty, based on the many descriptions of the locals he had heard.  The being approached the fire and sat down on a pile of branches about 4 or 5 meters away from him, crossed his legs, folded his hands, put his hands on his knee, and looked into the fire.  Jonich stressed that the being didn’t move its head in his direction, and apparently didn’t notice him.  He sat still in the same position, but wasn’t brave enough to put more wood on the fire.  He reports that he was worked up, but didn’t feel particularly afraid.

He describes the situation as “...somehow, it was completely natural: a person is sitting quietly by the fire in the mountains in the eyening.  Another person comes and sits down with him.” Jonich said that it is hard for him to estimate how long they sat together, because he was nervous. It was, in his opinion, at least 15 to 20 minutes.  Most of the time, the being sat with barely any movement at all.  By that time, it was almost completely dark, only the glow from the fire cast a bit of light.  Then the being stood up, turned around, and left.  It was only after the being had left that Jonich suddenly felt a strong feeling of fear, particularly when branches close to him cracked again.  Jonich thought it was the being coming back, but this did not happen.[1]

He described the hominoid as at least a half meter taller than himself (he is about 1.70 meters tall) with a very strong build body.  Its body was covered with thick, gray-brown hair.  The hair on its scalp looked human, but reached down to its shoulders, and some of them hung in its face.   Its eyes were deep below a prominent brow bone.  He couldn’t see any details about the eyes because of the darkness.  They did not glow.  The forehead was low.  The face was dark, without hair.  Jonich described it as „flat, but  human.  However, the angles of the face were rougher than those of a human."  He described its body as “out-of-proportion wide – not just its shoulders.” and stressed: "Compared with a very tall and muscular human, the being’s body was still much stronger and bulkier." Its feet were about 40  cm long and very wide. Even its hands were surprisingly large, with thick fingers.  Jonich thinks that it was a male and he stressed:  “You could feel the enormous power of its entire presence.” In the morning he retuned  to the alpinist camp and told the guards about his encounter, but they didn't believed him.

All in all it was easier for him to collect reports about such encounters among the natives compared with other non-locals: He was always living with them and had many friends among the people who lived in the mountains.  He was practically seen as a fellow local, who they trusted, by the people there. From time to time, since his encounter, he has published about the Caucasus wildmen in local and national newspapers and journals. In 1997 he investigated the Tegenkli case and reported about it a few years ago in Russian TV.[2]  Jonich was not the only one of the Russian mountain guides in Elbrus district who was interested in the local wildmen.  For example, his close colleague Leonid Zamjatnin also collected informations about the subject and published on it.  Zamjatnin was also mentioned by Dmitri Bayanov in his book In the footsteps of the Russian Snowman (1996). He lived in the  settlement of Terskol and died in the early 1990s.

H.-M. Beyer, May 20, 2011



[1]   In 2000, the Balkarian hunter Sagid S. claimed to have found the body of a female Almasty.
       The area where he said to have found this is about 1.5 miles away from Jonich’s encounter.
       See: Regarding the possible discovery of an Almasty corpse
[2] 
  For more information on the Tegenkli case, see: Screams of Almasty?


Jonich3     

Eduard Jonich in front of his "house" near Terskol, where he lives since several years (2009). Such barrels of steel are often in use as accommodation for alpinists and geologist in the former Soviet Union.





Eduard Jonich's publications on the Caucasus wildman (incomplete)

Jonich, E. 1994. Memory: Encounter with Almasty.(I) Gornezkaja Slava.  October 16. (in Russian)
Jonich, E. 1994.  Memory: Encounter with Almasty.(II) Gornezkaja Slava. 25. Otober ( in Russian)
Jonich, E. 1997. Sensation: Again Almasty. Elbrusskie Novosti. November 20 (in Russian)
Jonich, E. 1997. Almasty from Tekenegli. Gazeta Juga.  November 27, p. 6 (in Russian)
Jonich, E. 1998. An amazin thing. Zaman, October 12 (in Karachay- Balkarian)
Jonich, E. 1999. Snowman on the mountain slope. Chudesa i Prikljuchenie. 11,  p. 54 (in Russian)
Jonich, E.  2003. Emergence on mount Elbrus and not only there. (I) Elbruzkije Novosti, June 18 (in Russian)
Jonich, E.  2003. Emergence on mount Elbrus and not only there. (II) Elbruzkije Novosti, July 5 (in Russian)



 
Mukhamed Shomakhov (1946-2008)

                                                                                                                                

 

Bedde                                                                   


In  2011, our Kabardinian friend and coworker of our study group, Mukhamed Shomakhov, turned 65 years old. He lived in the republic of Kabardino-Balkaria in the Northern Caucasus, Russian Federation, as a painter and artist.  First we heard of him in the summer of 1998 in the city of Tyrnyauz, in Kabardino-Balkaria’s Elbrus district.  Residents of the city referred him to us.  They told us that he had participated in an Almasty expedition with foreigners in Kabardino-Balkaria a few years before. We first met him in his homevillage, Zajukovo,  Baksan district.  It turned out that in 1992, he had worked as an artist for the Koffmann-Pallix-Expedition Almasty 92. [1]  Dr. Marie-Jeanne Koffmann, the leading authority of Almasty, the wild man in the Caucaus, organized this expedition in 1992 together with the French journalist and filmmaker Sylvain Pallix. Pallix produced the film Almasty. Yeti du Caucase  about this expedition, which has been shown multiple times in French TV, and is today available on the web.[2]   Mukhamed Shomakhov appears multiple times in this film, but is identified by the false name “Micha Chamarov".[3]  For this expedition, he completed approximately 30 drawings of the Almasty based on eye witness reports.

Mukhamed was one of the very few locals who immediately understood our study group’s motivation to do such field work. Usually, the locals assume that the desire for money and fame is the reason of foreigners are interested in the Caucasus wildman.  The question of how much money one could receive in the west for a photo of the Almasty is always asked. Many times we headed off with Mukhamed through the  Kabardinian and Balkarian villages on the search for eye witnesses.  His main task was to complete drawings of Almasty based on eye witness reports.  He proved himself to be a good interviewer, who quickly gained the trust of the villagers and could quickly steer he conversation to the taboo topic.

Mukhamed spent his childhood in the Kabardinian village of Zajukovo. Because of his artistic talent, after completing the village school he went to the state art school in the northwest Caucasian metropolis Krasnodar for three years. Following that, he spent three years at the Uzbekian Art Academy in Samarkand.  He was unable to finish a concluding course of study at the Georgian Art Academy in Tbilissi due to his mother falling ill.  He returned to Kabardino-Balkaria at the beginning of the 70s.  Later he worked there for the artist’s fund in Nalchik, the capital of the republic. He was familiar with stories about the Almasty since his childhood.  Even his grandfather and mother told him stories about seeing Almasty. [4]  He himself had an encounter with a being who he took to be an Almasty at one time in his life:

Around 1989, Mukhamed was working part time as a guard for the water reservoir of the city Tyrnyauz.  This was located a few hundred meters away from the southern end of the city in a small birch grove. There was a tiny hut with a small window for the guards in a fenced-in plot.  One day in May, Mukhamed was working and had to spend the night in the hut.  One evening, he was cooking some meat on an open fire near the hut.  As dusk approached, he turned on a spotlight which lit up the plot, and he went into the hut.  The hut was so small that a man could not stretch out and lay down. Mukhamed lay in the hut and happened to look in the direction of the window.  Suddenly, a human-like face appeared in the window and stared at him – about 1.5 meters away from him.  Mukhamed was startled, because he immediately realized that this was not a human face.  The skin on the face was very dark and covered in lots of deep wrinkles.  The nose was flat.  He described the eyes as “looking  around wildly.”

The eyes were dark and he could not closer determine their color. They "glowed" not red like sometimes in other reports.The mouth was somewhat open and the teeth were significantly larger than those of a human. According to Mukhamed, the face was “large” and looked like a “grimace.”  The window was so small that he could only see the face, not the shape of the head, the hair, etc.  The being only spent a few seconds looking in the window. Mukhamed was so shocked that he instinctively reached for his pistol.  This lay next to him under a pillow.  But he felt like he was “paralyzed”  for a few seconds, and therefore could not reach for his pistol.  He stressed that this “paralysis” was not the result of his fear, but rather thought that  the being had “somehow paralyzed” him.  He also remembered that the “paralyzing” lasted a few seconds after the face had disappeared. When he was able to move again, he took his pistol and went outside the hut.  There was complete silence all around him and there was no one to be seen.  He couldn’t find any tracks on the dry, hard ground and said that he immediately understood that he had seen an Almasty. When he told the other guards about this incident, a few of the men then started to refuse to take over the night patrol in the hut. Mukhamed thought that the Almasty was hidden in the nearby rock wall, and had been lured by the smell of the cooking meat.  The rock wall is about 100 meters away from the hut, a few hundred meters tall, and  hard to climb.

In 1998, at our request, Mukhamed completed a collection of drawings in which he tried to reconstruct the face.  As early as 1992, during the Koffmann-Pallix expedition, he had completed such a drawing.  This drawing was also shown in the film by Sylvain Pallix. In the turbulent 1990’s in Russia, Mukhamed lost his job like many others and he had family problems.  However, he was a reliable coworker of our group and also became a good friend, to whom we have much to thank.  Simultaneously over the years, we also saw how his illness progressed, which he was not strong enough to overcome.  When our Caucasus fieldwork season started in summer of  2008, Mukhamed was no longer with us.

A. Braun, December 2011 


    

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Two drawings from Mukhamed Shomakhov regarding his own observation near the city Tyrnyauz, described above.  Left: The inner border shows the part of the head, just as he saw it in the small window.  He drew the rest of the head based on descriptions from other local witnesses.  Right:  The situation at the hut described above, from the artist's imagination.  The anatomy is based on descriptions from other eye witnesses.



1    The Koffmann-Pallix-Expedition  Almasty 92  in 1992
      Suregon teams with a filmmaker to find Almasty

2    Film by Sylavin Pallix (1992) Almasty.Yeti du Caucase, Part 1-3
3    Mukhamed Shomakhov in the film by Sylvain Pallix (1992), Part 1 (6:43)      
4    Report on the observation of Mukhamed Shomakhov's mother, Sofiat Shomakhova, in:
   
  H.-M. Beyer. 2008. Notes on the current field situation of an assumed population of recent non-sapiens hominids in the northern central Caucasus.