SGP  Reports

 

 

Television team filmes "Snowman" tracks in Siberia
August 10, 2004
"Wildmen" sightings in Chechnya
February 15, 2004
A wild, almost animal-like fear.
Maya Bykova's co-worker about the encounters on Kola in 1988
July 31, 2004
"Snowman" encounters around Moscow
October 24, 2004
Russian publications on Igor Burtsev's fieldwork in the USA
February 9, 2005
Encounters and research in Kirov province, Central European Russia (I)    March 17, 2005
Encounters and research in Kirov province, Central European Russia (II)    March 21, 2005
Questioning of a possible eye-witness in the village Psygansu, Caucasus      March 29, 2005
"Wildmen" in the Russian-Kazakh Altai and Sayan     April 19, 2005
On Nikolaj Avdeev's expeditions in Western Siberia    May 4, 2005
Regarding the possible discovery of an Almasty corpse July 19, 2008
Relations between man and "wildman" in the Caucasus: Khabaz Kardanov and his relationship to an Almasty         August 4, 2008
Screams of Almasty?     August 12, 2008
Anatoly Sidorenko about the British expedition 2008 and former Caucasus field work   
December 26, 2008
Two Russian Publications on an Expedition in the North Caucasus in 2008         April 10, 2009
Footprints in the Northern Caucasus in 1978:  Finder and circumstances June 20, 2009
New Investigations in the north-central Caucasus.  A report on selected results from the 2009 fieldwork season      November 12, 2010

A previously unknown Almasty observation by Gregory Panchenko in the Northern Caucasus in 1988   NEW

April 4 , 2011
Results from the 2010 fieldwork season in the north-central Caucasus         IN PREPARATION       
   

 


July 19, 2008


Regarding the possible discovery of an Almasty corpse


A close co-worker of  Dr. Marie-Jeanne Koffmann, biologist Gregory Panchenko, published in 2005 in Germany some results of his Caucasus expedition (2005).  Among other things, he reports about the search for the body of an Almasty during this expedition.  He writes, “In 1997, a local resident found the body of a 'snowman' and buried it under a rock in the mountains.  When I told him about the chance of making a lot of money with that, he got over his superstition that it brings bad luck to tell people about this.  For more than a week, we undertook digs in the area with him (he had forgotten the exact location, and the area had changed due to avalanches.)  Unfortunately, we didn’t find the skeleton, but in the next expedition one can continue the search."
[my translation, H.-M. B.]1  Apparently, Panchenko thinks it is possible to find the body.  In June-July 2008, a British search group worked in Kabardino-Balkaria, in cooperation with Panchenko and Anatoly Sidorenko. 2   According to th British group, they were still searching for the body. 3

In my own research into this case in 2000-2001, I came to the conclusion that conducting more search work at this time does not make sense.  Following is a short summary of this research. When he was asked after Panchenko's publication, one of my Balkarian informants, resident of Tyrnyauz city, told me that Panchenko had visited the same potential discoverer of the body and asked him for help.  This made it possible to determine that this referred to the same possible discovery. The surname of the potential finder is not named in the following text, to protect him and his family from future research.This case shows also a number of problems, which are typical of the necessary interaction with the locals in the current Caucasus field work.

Working in Kabardino-Balkaria in 1999, one of my Balkarian informants told me in autumn, that he had heard a rumour among Balkarians in the Baksan valley that a man had found the body of an Almasty.  This valley is with about 70 miles the longest mountain valley in Kabardino-Balkaria.  It is the valley most heavily used for tourists in this republic because it leads to Mt. Elbrus.  My informant didn’t know any additional details.  It was not the first time that I’ve heard such rumours. Because of that I didn’t give this one any special attention.  I was about ready to leave the Caucasus and I asked my informant to try and find more information.

Back in Kabardino-Balkaria in June 2000, this informant gave me a concrete tip about the Balkarian mountain village Elbrus, where the potential finder of the corpse lived.  I asked a Balkarian friend of mine, Zainaf  A., to go there with me, as she had relatives in this village. In Elbrus village, with the help of Zainaf, I was able to learn the name of this potential discoverer: a Balkarian named Sagid S.  I learned that only Sagid’s parents lived in the village, but he lived in the city Tyrnyauz in the Baksan valley.  Based on my experience, I thought it was better to not speak to his parents directly.  I next tried to get more information about Sagid and his discovery.  Zainaf was friends with a Balkarian family from Sagid’s parents neighbourhood.  In talking to the family, she learned that the wife – a Balkarian woman about 70 years old – had a friendly relationship with Sagid’s mother. Zainaf advised me, to send this woman to Sagid’s mother to learn more details.  Sagid’s parents shouldn’t know that a foreigner was interested in this.  Contrary to my previous experiences with the local mentality, my request was immediately understood and executed.

In the same evening, the about 70-year old woman visited Sagid’s mother and returned shortly with the following information: Sagid, a passionate hunter, had really discovered a dead Almasty during a hunt - “three of four years ago.”  His mother said that the location was the area of the Shelda mountain range. This mountain range is about three miles from the village.  Her son went hunting there regularly.  The mother reported that her son – a man over 40 with his own family – was very afraid of this find.  Because of this fear, he slept in the same room as his mother for a few nights following the discovery.  From the Balkarians present, this was judged as very unusual – and as a certain sign that he had truly found a body.

For the planned direct contact with Sagid, I had a consultation with various Balkarian friends.  The possible discoverer was described as a closed and very religious person.  The Balkarians advised against offering him money or material possessions for the body. I asked one of my local friends, a Balkarian in a respectable age with a higher social standing, to accompany me on my visit to Sagid.  He was supposed to explain the value of the discovery to him and ask him to show me the location.

For our first visit to Sagid’s Tyrnyauz flat, he wasn’t home.  During our second visit a few days later he seemed to already know the reason why we had come.  My friend, who is a good talker, first held a long monologue in Balkarian language.  During this monologue, Sagid’s body language showed that he was very uncomfortable.  In the conversation following, he spoke slowly and brokenly, and avoided eye contact with the others.  He confirmed this discovery, but didn’t want to commit himself to helping us.  He said that he first had to get advice from his Mullah.  As for the time of the discovery, he said (like his mother) “three or four years ago.”  When asked about details, among other things, he reported that the dead Almasty was female.  According to his words, she had already laid in the location for a longer period of time.  The hair had begun to fall from body and head.  According to him he “buried” her under a slab of a large rock which stuck out of the earth and formed a type of “roof.”  He gave the same mountain range as the discovery location as his mother: Shelda.  He claimed that he had forgotten the exact location of the  “grave.”  One would have to search for the place. He also reported that about two years ago, “people from the local government” had visited him and offered him money for the body. According to his words, he refused the offer.

During our next visit, he agreed to search for the grave with me and my older Balkarian friend.  However, he wanted that I speak to his “Mullah” beforehand.  It turned out that the “Mullah” was a Balkarian woman who lived in Tyrnyauz too. She claimed that she had something like visionary powers.  Sagid appeared to be convinced of her powers.  She said that she had been with Sagid at the Almasty’s grave and had said a prayer.  She stressed that according to the local traditions, a Almasty must be buried “like a human.”  She also claimed that there was much danger coming from the grave, but didn’t elaborate on this.  This seems to be tied to the local superstitions.

This woman also claimed to have a tooth from the body.  For a few seconds, she showed me a part of the root of a tooth in a dim room.  It appeared to be larger than a human’s.  I was not allowed to take it.  I asked about the rest of the tooth.  The woman said that she had broken off small pieces and given them to other people.  They were to be used like a talisman.  Possibly to demonstrate this, she broke a small piece off of the tooth with a hammer while I was present.
4

A few days later, Sagid went with my older Balkarian friend and me to the Shelda mountain range. After about a one-hour hike from an alpinist camp we reached an alpine rock area about 2500 meters high, close to a glacier. It was visible that Sagid knew this alpine territory very well, moved securely, and had no problems with orientation.  When asked, he knew the names of typical plants, recognized animal tracks and could identify them correctly.  There was much evidence of use on his gun and binocular.

When talking to Sagid, I realized that he saw me as a naive, in the nature completely inexperienced "tourist".  This is typical of the natives from this area, whose image of strangers is shaped mostly by Russian tourists.  I reinforced this impression by asking naive questions. I had thought that the chance that he would really show me the grave was relatively small.  However, it did seem possible that he was leading me close to the grave.  I hoped that he would be less careful with a naive tourist and that I could get clues from his behaviour about the exact location of the grave. Sagid pointed to a steep, rocky slope, striped by erosion, about 100 x 300 meters large, as the place where the body was discovered.  He claimed that he couldn’t remember where exactly the grave was on the slope. This claim is hard to believe, because there were not so many stones of the described size and orientation was not difficult on the slope.  In an apparent effort to show his goodwill, Sagid “searched” about an hour at different places on the slope, with no results. 

Later conversations with Sagid about the location of the grave revealed significant inconsistencies.  Once he said that he had found the body at the upper edge of the slope – lying out in the open.  In another talk he said that he had found the body exactly under the rock where he “buried” it by piling stones on top. Based on my knowledge of the local mentality, it makes no sense to point out these differences to a local in this type of talk.  It is not possible to have dialogue with logical arguments in many cases.  Therefore, I didn’t confront Sagid with these inconsistencies. In another talk he claimed that during his search on the slope he had seen a "white Jinn" (a spirit in the islamic believe)  there. He said that this seemed to him as a sign that he should not find the grave. 5  When asked more concrete questions about the anatomy of the body, Sagid reacted with obvious discomfort.  In order to maintain his willingness to help, and not push it, no further detailed questions were asked about this.  Previous experiences also suggest that descriptions of the Almasty’s anatomy by natives is often tainted by fear and superstition.

slope  

Two weeks later, he was willing to search for the body with me again.  This time, he started turning over stones in a channel made by erosion, on the lower side of the same slope.  Here, it was completely apparent that he was only trying to show how willing he was to help.  There were no more searches with Sagid.  He promised that he would look himself for the grave sometime later.  In 2001, the author and his co-workers also investigated the slope, with no results. One must guess as to why Sagid wanted to show his willingness to help.  According the local culture, he felt responsible to help the older Balkarien man.  He had hinted at how important this discovery was and asked intensively for help. He also had his own interest.  He said that he wanted to buy cars in Germany and asked the author to help him with this.  This was assured.  However, Sagid never made contact with the author again.

A small part of the mountian slope, which the Balkarian hunter Sagid S. pointed out as the place of the Almasty "grave".


According to former experiences, as well as the assessment of the case through Balkarian friends – including those with higher education and a certain distance to their own culture – it is most likely that Sagid had truly found the body of a hominoid. The most important sign of can be considered the mother’s statement.  He and his mother both named the same mountain range as the location where the body was found.  Because of the local tradition, it is highly unlikely that Sagid lied to his mother.  Also, Sagid’s personality – as a serious, closed, religious man – speaks against him telling such a lie.  It puts the personal reputation of the man in question to make up such a story about this type of discovery. The personal reputation is the most important value in the local culture.

Furthermore, my Balkarian friend Zainaf  found a villager in 2001, who claimed the following: once, about "some years ago", he met Sagid and a Mullah on the edge of the village with a shroud.  They were headed towards the mountains.  When asked where they were going, Sagid said that he had to bury an Almasty.  Later, when this villager asked Sagid about the body, he said that there “was nothing anymore” at the location.

Based on current assessments, it must be assumed that Sagid found the body under the stone he described and he used this as the grave.  In one of his statements, he claimed to have closed the open side of the stone roof with boards.  He stacked large rocks in front of this. It is unlikely that he moved the body.  A true “burial” in the earth is nearly impossible in this alpine zone, because of the edaphic structure. In the area of this mountain range mentioned, there are many extensive stone fields with hundreds of possibilities for this type of “grave” – even in the immediate surroundings of the slope pointed out by Sagid. In my opinion and according of all circumstances, he had not “forgotten” the grave’s location and knows exactly where it is.  Panchenko wrote about avalanches, which changed the landscape.
6  It is correct, that in 2000 some happened close to the city Tyrnyauz, but not in the mountain range area mentioned by Sagid and his mother, which is about 17 miles away from Tyrnyauz.

The reasons why Sagid did not want to show the location is probably a mixture of several.  First, the taboo and local superstitions, including religious elements.  This superstition says among others, that one is not allowed to betray an Almasty.  This can bring much bad luck to the family.  According to Panchenko, the finder was able to get over his superstition once he was told he could „earn a lot of money “with the body.
7  One can assume that Panchenko knew, based on his many years experience, that offering money to the locals is usual not a reason for them to forget their superstitions.
 
Another reason can be assumed to be that locals are generally suspicious of outsiders – particularly against western foreigners – also as a result of former Soviet propaganda.  This is tied together with the local’s fear that they could be cheated by strangers.  The western foreigner is generally seen as “rich.”  His interest in the subject is often seen as an attempt to get richer.  This is held against the foreigner. Sagid’s family lives in stable economic conditions, from his point of view. According to previous experiences one can assume, that only an extreme economic crisis in the future could maybe offer the possibility that he is willing to show the grave’s location in exchange for money.

H.-M. Beyer, July 2008


1   Panchenko, Gregory. 2005. Eine Expedition in den Kaukasus 2005 - Auf der Suche nach dem Schneemenschen. Pterodactylus, 24-25/ III-IV, p. 56
2   Anatoly
Sidorenko from the Donezk district of the eastern Ukraine is a close coworker of M.-J. Koffmann and G. Panchenko since many years.
3   htt
p://almasty.blogspot.com

4   It must be noted that Panchenko also describes tooth shards in the publication named above. But he also mentions that this does not have
     anything to do with the body.

5   It should be noted that a "Jinn" in connection with tooth shards was also mentioned by the British group. (op. cit., note 3).
6    op- cit. (note 1)
7    op. cit. (note 1)



August 4, 2008

Relations between man and "wildman" in the Caucasus: Khabaz Kardanov and his relationship to an Almasty


During the search for eyewitnesses in the Kabardinian village Sarmakovo in Kabardino-Balkaria, northern Caucasus, in November 2005, a member of the German study group was referred to a possible eyewitness. It was the Kabardinian Hassan Muratovich Kardanov, 72 years old.  He is a member of a respected family in the village.  During the Soviet time, Kardanov had worked nearly 20 years as the head of the “Selsovjet” (village administration) in Sarmakovo. During the talk with him, he said that he had encounters with the Almasty twice in his life.  According to him, his first encounter was “after the war near the village Kamljuko”, a village close to Sarmakovo.  The second encounter happened at the end of the 50s, in the neighboring republic Karachaevo-Circassia, about 10 miles from the settlement Ust’ Dzheguta. Kardanov was mowing grass there together with four other men. When it got dark, they raked the cut grass together. Suddenly, a creature similar to a man came toward them, and Kardanov claimed that this was an Almasty. One of the men fainted from fear. The creature apparently had a face like a person, but also had crooked eyes.  The entire body was covered with hair, and the hair on his head reached to his chest. He wore a cloth around his hips.1

kardanov
During the talk on this subject, Kardanov explained that his dead cousin, a resident of Sarmakovo, was friends with a female Almasty.  In the further talk, it was revealed who he was talking about: Khabaz Kardanov.  Boris Porshnev publicized on this Kabardinian and his relationship with an Almasty in his work The Struggle for Troglodytes (1968). In 1974 this paper was also published in French in an abridged version.According to Porshnev, in the fall of 1959, a member of the Snowman Commission in Moscow was informed that a Khabaz Kardanov in the village Sarmakovo had contact with a “tame” Almasty. He worked at that time as a herdsman and on the pasture he became friendly with an female Almasty. Later she followed him to his house in Sarmakovo and visited this house again and again. Khabaz' uncle saw her in the garden there.  Khabaz was apparently willing to allow the possibility of contact in return for money.  However, this did not come to be. 
Porshnev wrote, that at the time, the existence of a “Snowman” in the Caucasus has hard to fathom, and the Snowman Commission at the Academy of Science in Moscow had problems. The necessary money was not produced. Porshnev: "[…] Shortly thereafter, he [Khabaz Kardanov] left for Siberia and his relatives claimed that he reached this decision, partly because of his wish to leave the Almasty.  And therefore one cannot assume that this kind of situation will repeat itself.” 3 Later, nothing more about this case was published from the Russian side, as far as is known.


Hassan Kardanov  (Sarmakovo, Kabardino-Balkaria, November 2005)

Because of Porshnev’s description the members of the German study group, working in Sarmakovo, thought that Khabaz Kardanov had left the village forever. 4  But this was obviously not true. According to Hassan Kardanov’s statement, his cousin Khabaz lived his entire life in Sarmakovo. He worked for the wine factory there, which still exists today.  His job was, among others, to travel with shipments of wine to Siberia. During these transports, he was sometimes not at home for a few weeks.  He died, according to his cousin, in the late 80s in Sarmakovo. 

Hassan Kardanov told how Marie-Jeanne Koffmann often visited him when he worked in the village administration: “She often came to me and asked me to help her.” 5  He claimed further, that she asked him several times, among other things, to speak to his cousin, that he should show her the Almasty.  When asked about Koffmann’s intentions, Kardanov said, “She wanted to catch the Almasty.”  As a return favor, Koffmann promised Khabaz Kardanov a three-room apartment in Moscow – “rjadom Gagarina” [next to Gagarin].6  Hassan Kardanov explained that at that time, just as it is today, the dream of many Kabardinian villagers was to live in Moscow, because of the better wages and prestige.  However, Khabaz turned this offer down.  Hassan Kardanov quoted his cousin with the following words: “And even if she [Koffmann] gave me the entire district of Moscow, I wouldn’t give her the Almasty.”  Hassan Kardanov didn’t know anything about a ransom that his cousin demanded for the Almasty in 1959, but he didn’t say that such a claim must be untrue.  Hassan was asked if Khabaz also had contact to the Almasty in the 60s and later.  He said that there were such rumors of this in the village and referred to Koffmann’s offer to his cousin. 

He said further that he met his cousin once in the 60s during the hay harvest near the village.  He came back after a some time and was amazed that his cousin had finished the entire harvest in such a short time.  He asked him about it. Khabaz said that “she” had helped him. It should be noted that in the Russian TV documentary Madam and the Snowman (2005) Koffmann shows a locality on the edge of the village Sarmakovo, where, according to her, the Almasty helped Khabaz Kardanov during the hay harvest. In this connection no year is mentioned. Hassan Kardanov said, that his cousin lived alone in his house, about 300 meters away from Koffmann’s home in the center of the village Sarmakovo, until his death. During the talks with him, Hassan Kardanov appeared to be a serious, honest man.  Although he has reached retirement age, he still works in the administration for pension funds in Zalukokoashe, the administration center of the Zolsk district. 

The Khabaz Kardanov case is also dealt with in the present literature about “relic hominids”, following Porshnev’s description.7  It must be noted, that also other Moscow researchers like Igor Burtsev and Dmitri Bayanov took part in Koffmann's fieldwork in Sarmakovo in the middle of the 60s.8 However, according to Hassan Kardanov’s descriptions, this case from the early days of Caucasian fieldwork is presented  differently as that which Porshnev published in 1968.  Keeping his publication in mind, this leads today to a question, which is also significant for other publications: How completely was Porshnev and other authors informed about the fieldwork in the Caucasus?
 
If one is trying to collect information about Almasty from the locals nowadays, they will hear the tip that in the last three decades there has sometimes been people who had personal relationship with Almasty. Locals claim today that Koffmann was looking for such “contact people” and several times, found them. They say that she attempted to have these contact people show her the Almasty, also in offering them money. It is not known at the present if this worked. Gregory Panchenko, Koffmann’s close coworker, wrote in his book Catalogue of Monsters (2002), that in the 1960s the last generation of Almasty died for whom contact to humans was relatively common.9

sermak
There are many historical reports in the Caucasus about taming the wild people. Those who collect reports in the central north Caucasus about the subject, always run into the following theme: A person can “tame” an Almasty, when he hides a hair from himself in his house.  Then, the Almasty will serve as a worker for the person who has his hair.  However, if the Almasty finds the hair, he can also kill the person who hid it.  This believe is probably the most known about Almasty among the local residents today.  You can even hear it from people who believe the Almasty to be a part of local superstition.

The best known example of “taming” is Zana, who is believed to be a “relic hominoid” by the Moscow “hominologists”.  According to Russian publications, she was caught and tamed in the 19th century in Abkhazia. In The Struggle for Troglodytes, Porshnev mentions another case where an Almasty had regular contact to a family.  This also occurred in the Zolsk district, where the village Sarmakovo is located.  Koffmann learned this from the Ukrainian N. Zerikova, who had an encounter with this Almasty in 1956.10  Alexander Mashkovtsev, a member of the Russian Snowman commission who worked as the first in Kabardino-Balkaria on the problem in 1960, wrote:  “… in previous times, one frequently met Almasty.  There were even cases where they could be tamed, and they lived a few years with Kabardinian families and did simple work.  There were also apparently cases of sexual intercourse between the Almasty and humans.” 11




The central part of Sarmakovo village, where Khabaz Kardanov lived (August 2007).
His house in the main street burned down in the 90s.

According to Koffmann, before the revolution Kabardinians, Circassians, Karachays and other Caucasian nationalities used them [Almasty] often for agricultural works: in the gardens, for cutting wood, for bringing water and others. The farmers fed their unusual helpers and sometimes they gave them old trousers and jackets.12   The mountain guide Leonid Zamyatnin collected eyewitness reports in the Caucasus according to Dmitri Bayanov.13  He lived in the settlement Terskol on the foot of Mt. Elbrus and published in 1986: “The residents of Kabardino-Balkaria claim that even 40 to 50 years ago an Almasty lived in almost every house of the mountain villagers.  The Almasty was given food and that brought the families good luck.” 14              

According to current reports of natives in Kabardino-Balkaria, before the Second World War it was not rare that a single Almasty lived in a local family over many years. In this connection one can hear the following story: The Almasty who lived with the humans received every day his meal. Each time when the family had lunch or dinner, they set out a serving in the courtyard. But when they forgot to do this, and when they later returned home, they realized that he had made a large mess in the house looking for his dinner. These typ of story is widespread in the northern Caucasus even today. Natives claim further that such Almasty sometimes were buried in the same graveyard as the members of his family. In 1999 the German group recorded a report by inhabitants of the village Bylym in Kabardino-Balkaria. They claimed that Marie-Jeanne Koffmann was digging for such a body in a former graveyard on the edge of their village in the Soviet time. Because this is against the local customs she tried to keep it secret and worked only at night, but it became known in the village.

Also in Bylym in 1999, a member of the German study group recorded the report of the Balkarian Mariam Avashokova, 99 years old.  She said that an Almasty lived in their house when she was a child.  He had his own room in the house, which the children could not enter. The children rarely saw him and were afraid of him. She couldn’t describe the face very well, because it was covered in long hair that hung down. She also didn’t know the gender of the Almasty. Yet she did experience how the Almasty made a large mess in the house when he didn’t get anything to eat.  According to her, Almasty lived in the homes of many families in Balkaria during her childhood. 15

One question in the present field work is if purposeful, repeated contact or a lengthy relationship between Almasty and humans exists today. Since the late 90s there have been significant hints collected that point to the likelihood that there are still such contact people today. This is a main point of current field investigations of the German study group in the Caucasus.


 1    Personal communication of K.C. Beyer and H.-M. Beyer with Hassan Kardanov (November 12, 2005,
       video tape record) All quotes from Hassan Kardanov in the text are from this communication.
 2    Heuvelmans, Bernard; Porshnev, Boris. 1974. L'homme de Neanderthal est toujour vivant. Paris: Plon. 
 3    Porshnev, Boris. 1968. The Struggle for Troglodytes. Prostor,  7, p.120  (in Russian).
 4    Kardanov is one of the most common last names in the village Sarmakovo
 5    Koffmann started her fieldwork in Kabardino-Balkaria in 1962, op. cit. (note 3)  p. 116.
 6    Juri Gagarin, the first man in space (1961), was a Soviet national hero.
 7    Roche, Jean. 2000. Sauvages et velus. Chambéry: Éditions Exergue, pp. 106-108.       
 8    http://hominology.narod.ru/eng.htm (Stand in July 2008)
 9    Panchenko, Gregory. 2002. Catalogue of Monsters. Moscow: Olma Press, p. 96 (in Russian). 
10   op. cit. (note 3) p. 117
11   Vinogradova, Dina; Nepomnjaskshij, Nikolaj; Novikov, Alexander. 2003. Neanderthals alive?
       Moscow: Veche, pp.124-125 (in Russian).
12   Chernyshev, Fedor. 1964. On the eve of a great discovery. Za Izobilie. December 12 (In Russian).
13   Bayanov, Dmitri. 1996. In the Footsteps of the Russian Snowman. Moscow: Crypto-Logos, p. 40
14   Zamyatnin Leonid.1986.  Almasty - the "Snowman". Gornyazkaya Slava. 36 (1048), March 25, p. 3 (in Russian). 
15   Personal communication of K.C. Beyer with Mariam Afashokova (August 28, 1999, video tape record).          



Addendum (April 9, 2009):

Anatoly Sidorenko, coworker of  Dr. Marie-Jeanne Koffmann since the early 1980s, said in an newspaper interview in August 2008: “ I asked two Caucasians who lived with females [of Almasty].  They came to the humans themselves, because the people fed them, and tamed them, and then lived together with them.  People used them for help in the household: they carried sacks and took care of other heavy work.  But then they left.  Why?  The thing is, in a Muslim village, traditional relationships are very important.  The community was against this relationship.  Sooner or later, they would have had to get married, and this so-called woman would have been dangerous to the bride.  She also could have physically gotten rid of the bride – by biting her or breaking their neck. In one of these cases, when the human wanted to send the Almasty female away, she was offended and killed him.  That was in Balkaria.” *
*  Beloborodov, Andrej. 2008 The Snow people love wine, steal salt and wear human clothes! (Foto report). Vostochny Project, September 4  (in Russian)
For more informations on Anatoly Sidorenko see:
 Anatoly Sidorenko about the British expedition 2008 and former Caucasus field work


August 12, 2008


Screams of Almasty?

The French family Mahuzier traveled through the Caucasus in 1979. They produced a film about this trip: Le Caucase.1  During this trip they visited also Dr. Marie-Jeanne Koffmann in Sarmakovo village, Kabardino-Balkaria. The family were friendly with Koffmann since many years. Sarmakovo with its surroundings is the center of the Russian field research on “relic  hominids” since 1962 up to the present time. In one of the scenes of this film they recorded, a series of strange, loud cries can be heard.  In their book  Les Mahuzier au Caucase   Katja and Alain Mahuzier describe how this recording came to be: Katja, Sylvain and Alain were together in tents with Koffmann in the upper Baksan valley, Elbrus district, not far from a hotel.  In the evening, there were suddenly loud cries to be heard over the course of several hours.  The direction the screams came from could not be determined.  They searched for the being making the screams, but without success.  The cries were also heard on the morning and evening of the following day.

mahuzier  
Sylvain and Alain believed that two beings made the screams.  They also thought jackals made the sounds: “Sylvain said, ‘I saw the red eyes and the pointy ears of a yellow, four-legged animal in the undergrowth.’  Almasty, jackal, or deamon?  The mystery remains!”2 
In November 1997, there was a similar case, also in the upper Baksan valley.  Several Russian newspapers reported on it. According to this publications, as for example in Gazeta Juga, in November 1997, 30 pupils from the city Majskij (northern Kabardino-Balkaria), were at the tourist station “Elbrus”, close to the Balkarian village Tegenekli, together with their Russian chaperone Ludmila Kolesnikova.  Two girls discovered large, human-like footprints in the snow in the forest, near a ski slope about 200 meters away from the tourist station. 

Alain and Katja Mahuzier with Dr. Marie-Jeanne Koffmann (left) in Kabardino-Balkaria in 1979
. 
Courtesy of Muaed Malzurgenov

Shortly thereafter, they saw a very large, human-like being about 100 meters away. They describe it as bent over, covered with light brown fur, without a neck and with very long arms. The being disappeared in the forest. The girls were afraid and ran back to the tourist station, and told their story to a guide.  He went back with them to the place, and saw large footprints, similar to a human’s bare feet.  Later, also other pupils saw the being near to the tourist station numerous times on the same day: once it was running through the forest, another time it was sitting on a rock.  On the next evening and in the night, loud, strange screams were coming from the forest close to the tourist station.  It is thought that these screams came from this being.3

In August 1998, Ludmila Kolesnikova was once again with her pupils not far from the tourist station “Elbrus” – in the alpinist camp “Elbrus”.  There, she was asked about the incidents from November 1997 by a member of the German study group.  Kolesnikova reported that at first she didn’t believe her pupils.  Later, she saw the being herself near the tourist station: “Behind a bush, there sat a huge [being], at least two meters tall, with long arms […]. We were so shocked, that we immediately ran away. […] The color [of the fur] was like coffee with milk.”  A pupil from Kolesnikova’s group, who had also seen the being, described it as follows: “…small head, a lower jaw the jutted out, without a neck. The head just sat directly on the shoulders.  The body was covered with light brown fur.” 

According to Kolesnikova, on the day of her observation, a group of athletes close to the tourist station heard, around 7:00 p.m., “...a bone-chilling screams, neither human nor from a known animal”.  The athletes ran away after hearing this.  In the middle of the night, at 2 a.m., there was a series of screams.  They appeared to be very close.  It woke up all the children in the tourist station.  Kolesnikova said that the screams were very loud, “penetrating like a siren” […] “as if someone was being killed” […] “had a fearful effect.”  The screams came at regular intervals.  Later they sounded further away, but then came closer, and finally could be heard from the ski slope above the tourist station.  Kolesnikova noticed that during the screams, the dogs in the nearby village Tegenekli started barking.  Later in the night, the screams could be heard again.  During the talk with Kolesnikova, she imitated the screams.  They were  similar to the screams from Mahuzier’s film.  Kolesnikova did not know of the film.  At the time of the interview, the film was not available to make a comparison. 4

kolesnikova
Ski Slope

Ludmila Kolesnikova (left) among her pupils (Alpinist camp"Elbrus", Kabardino-Balkaria, August 15, 1998) and the ski slope,
about 200 meters away from the tourist camp "Elbrus", where the pupils firstly observed the being.

Sound  A part of Kolesnikova´s original speech including her imitation of the screams. (Mp3-File)

Marie-Jeanne Koffmann was asked for the screams by Bernard Heuvelmans. In a letter to him from 1983 - after Heuvelmans dead available in his archive in Switzerland - she wrote about the recorded screams from Mahuzier’s film.  In her description, the question of who made the screams has been answered.  She wrote: “ I’m afraid I must disappoint you, regarding the recorded screams – it was a jackal, which also tricked me. […]  In the next night, as the screams started again, Sylvain Mahuzier, the nephew of Alain, laid himself in the forest and surprised the animal himself, by shining a flashlight on the animal as it started to scream.  A moment later, when a young jackal came to him, he stopped screaming.”  Koffmann describes the screams in the letter as “… something of Canide, in any case.” 5

In 2007, Jusef Goldman (Switzerland), interested in the film,  questioned Katja, Alain and Sylvain Mahuzier among others about the screams of 1979 in telephone talks.  Alain Mahuzier said that at the time, he only had a small, weak flashlight.  He did see red eyes, but couldn’t determine who they were from.  Alain Mahuzier: “I, and Sylvain too, have personally not seen any jackal.” 6  Sylvain Mahuzier said that the screams came first, which are also to be heard in the film.  About an hour later, as they were going in that direction, they did hear other sounds: a type of “barking.”  Sylvain Mahuzier does not rule out that the sounds could have come from two different beings: first the cries of an Almasty, then the “barking” of a jackal.  He confirms that he saw red eyes close to the ground. Sylvain Mahuizer declaired  that he did not see a jackal, as opposed to Koffmann’s description.7  The voice of the jackal can be heard very often in this region. According to the zoological literature a rich repertoire of jackal sounds is known: Howling, crying, hissing, growling, grunting and barking. The eyes of the jackal are not red glowing in the dark.

According to Katja and Alain Mahuzier, Koffmann in 1979 didn’t know at that time when they heard together the screams if the screams came from an Almasty.  They were surprised about this, because Koffmann is a specialist in this field. Katja and Alain Mahuzier had the recorded screams examined in a laboratory for bio acoustics in Paris-Jouy.  There, they were compared with known cries from other animals.  According to the laboratory, the screams did not come from any known animal.  They were judged to be three to four times stronger than human screams.8

The probably first description in literature of a possilbe scream of the Caucasus "wildman" came from the Russian hunt inspector Vladimir Leontiev. In 1957 he collected informations among the natives on "Kaptar" or "Chepter" (local names of the "wildman") in the mountains of southern Dagestan, eastern North Caucasus. He investigated the new established Gutan nature reserve in Tlarata district. There, in the evening of August 8, he heard two strange, loud screams, not simliar to humans or any known animal. In the next morning he saw in a distance of about 50-60 meters a humanlike being, very similar to the descriptions of "Kaptar" he got before from the natives. His report was published in 1959 in volume 3 of the Informations materials of the commisson of the study of the"Snowman" question. Leontiev decribed the scremas as "Very loud, strange, not comparable with any other sound [...]".

Grover S. Krantz also mentiones a voice recording from the Caucasus, which he could hear in Moscow: „There also is a recording of a vocalization from Georgia that I can only describe as ‘interesting’ in that in does not exactly sound like a human voice, but it does not sound much like any of the reputed sasquatch recordings either.” 9  Gregory Panchenko, a close coworker of Marie-Jeanne Koffmann, explained in a lecture, held in UK in 2007, that he could hear the screams of Almasty during his Caucasus expeditions four times.
A closer description of was not given.10


Italics are translations from Russian and French.
We are grateful to Jusef Goldman for his informations.

 1     For more information on this film see http://www.mahuzier.com/expecine/a-caucase.php
 2     Mahuzier, Katja and Alain. 1982. Les Mahuzier au Caucase. Paris: Presses de la cite. p. 106
 3     Jonikh, Eduard. 1998. Almasty from Tegenekli. Gazeta Juga, November 11 (in Russian).
 4     Talk with Ludmila Kolesnikova and her pupils in the alpinist camp "Elbrus", August 15, 1998 (tape recording, in Russian).
 5     Koffmann, Marie-Jeanne. 1983. Letter to Bernard Heuvelmans. January 2.
        Archiv Bernard Heuvelmans in Musée cantonal de zoologie, Lausanne (unpublished)
 6     Telephone talk of Jusef Goldman with Alain Mahuzier, March 14, 2007.
 7     Telephone talk of Jusef Goldman with Sylavin Mahuzier, April 2, 2007
 8     Telephon talk of Jusef Goldman with Katja and Alain Mahuzier, January 4, 2007
 9     Krantz, Grover S. 1999. Bigfoot Sasquatch Evidence. Hancock house publishers.  p. 213  
10    Panchenko, Gregory. 2007. The Russian Snowman. (Lecture in the UK).



December 26, 2008


Anatoly Sidorenko about the British expedition 2008 and former Caucasus field work

The Ukrainian newspaper Tekhnopolis, edited in the city Kramatorsk (Donezk district, Eastern Ukraine), reported in 2005 about a Caucasus expedition of one “Anatoly Sedorenko”. [1]  Now, thanks to newspaper publications in 2008 in the Ukraine, it is known who this is about: Anatoly Sidorenko from Kramatorsk. Two of these 2008 publications are interviews with Sidorenko, which appeared in the Ukrainian regional newspaper Vostochny Project, published in Kramatorsk.  According to him, he studied together with Gregory Panchenko at the Kharkov State University.  In one of this interviews, Sidorenko describes Panchenko as his old friend and a like-minded person.[2] 

According to Vostochny Project, Sidorenko is an archeologist and historian.
[3]  Vadim Makarov, a former president of the Russian Society of Cryptozoologists, published in 2002 that Sidorenko works as the director of a middle school in Kramatorsk. [4]  Like Panchenko, he has participated in Dr. Marie-Jeanne Koffmann’s field work in Kabardino-Balkaria since the early 1980s [3] and became  one of her close coworkers.  He also took part in the Koffmann-Pallix expedition in 1992. Next to Panchenko, he is the only one of Koffmann’s team colleagues who is known in the West to have continued working in Kabardino-Balkaria  even in the 90s – after this expedition in 1992.[5] According to Komsomol’skaja Pravda (Ukraine edition) he is one of the leading specialists in Cryptozoology in Ukraine.[6]  He is also a member of the Russian Society of Cryptozoologists  [3]  and the chairman of the Donezk  branch of this society. 

According to Tekhnopolis (2005), Sidorenko also worked in the northern Caucasus in the summer of 2005.  There, he had an encounter with an Almasty at night, which was lured to him with wine.
 [1]   In one of his 2008 interviews in Vostochny Project, Sidorenko says: “We were the first people who were able to find fragments of an Almasty skeleton […] First, these came to the University of Copenhagen.  After a thorough examination they were given to one of the paleontological museums in Paris.” [2]  Panchenko also worked in the northern Caucasus in the summer of 2005 and published the results of this expedition in Germany. He mentions bones he found in this article. [7]   These are apparently still in Paris currently.[8] From July to October 2005 Marie-Jeanne Koffmann also worked in Kabardino-Balkaria.  During this time, she was visited by a Russian television crew from Moscow at her base in Sarmakovo village. Images from this visit were used for the documentary “Madam and the Snowman” about Koffmann’s life and work.[9] One can assume that there was cooperation between Panchenko, Sidorenko, and Koffmann in the summer of 2005.  However, an encounter of Sidorenko in this summer was not mentioned by Panchenko in his publication.[7]

 
In 2008, Sidorenko and some others participated in Panchenko’s expedition to the north Caucasus together with a British research group.  This expedition was also announced in a Kabardino-Balkaria newspaper: Adyge Psal’e (Circassian Word).  There, is was messaged one of the goals of the expedition was to examine mountain caves. [10]  The British group worked for three weeks in June and July in the middle- and upper Baksan valley in Kabardino-Balkaria. [11]  After the expedition one member of the British group held in UK a lecture about it. [12]

In the interview, which he gave before the expedition, Sidorenko shares the following: The expedition was financed by the English participants, with support from the German magazine Der Spiegel.
[2]  After the expedition Komsomol'skaja Pravda quoted Sidorenko as following: “We found their camps, tracks, hair, and took fingerprints.  We found many places where he had dug roots from the ground and eaten them. [13]  In an interview after the expedition he said:  In this year, we also had a meeting with the Almasty – pretty strange: The Englishman Richard saw him.  It was night; he was sitting in an abandoned hut in the mountains, where our temporary camp was, next to the oven, because the nights in the mountains are cold.  He had his video camera in his hands.  The door was open and he saw the stars in the sky.  Suddenly, the stars were covered by a large, dark silhouette.  The Almasty stood at the threshold and made deep sounds like 'Bu bu bu' !  After that, he disappeared and Richard couldn’t settle down for a long time, he was pressed against the wall in fear."[3]  Together with this interview, Vostochny Project published a number of photos of the expedition, where also Sidorenko can be seen.[3] Before the expedition, Sidorenko also reported about one of his own encounters in Kabardino-Balkaria, but without naming the year: “[…] Once, at dusk, as I was going down a narrow path in the Baksan valley, I ran into him [Almasty] completely unexpectedly, literally face to face.  He was the first to jump to the side, and disappeared as fast as possible in the nearby bushes, the regular guy in me won out over the scientist and I felt like I had been reborn.” [2]

Sidorenko makes additional significant statements about his previous field work, but that are obviously not in conjunction with the 2008 expedition: I participated in Caucasus expeditions for 25 years. […] We found a large volume of material, and not a single year went by when we didn’t have an encounter or observation of this being."  "
Often, at night, we see them as dark objects, silhouettes, from a great distance […] There is often contact with the males, which isn’t surprising, because they are more active, more aggressive, and more curious. [...]  They are not afraid of humans, because they know their own power.” [3]   When asked about the appearance of the “Snowman”, Sidorenko answered: “…It can happen that from a large distance, you can’t tell them apart from humans.  They walk on two legs, even if there are, of course, differences.  They are hairy, very tall, sometimes up to two and a half meters, but personally, I’ve only observed a maximum of 1.95 meters; this is still normal for humans.” [3] In the interview before the expedition, Sidorenko also said:  “Almasty has a powerful, physical strength.  He could easily, and without strain, throw rocks the size of an old color television.  My colleague Panchenko could convince himself of that.  But there is no registered attack of an Almasty on a human.” [2]

After the expedition Komsomol’skaja Pravda (Ukraine edition) quoted him as follows: “We are following them.  We know where they spend their time, where they migrate in spring and summer, which paths they take and which canyons they go through.  Based on the fur color of the males, females, and children, you can tell who’s bred with whom.  And when their migration paths are known, one can predict where they will appear and where they will steal salt.  Women often complain that the Almasty steals clothes which have been hung out to dry.  Sometimes they steal the clothing of people who are bathing in the river.  It can happen that they take some of the clothes, have a look at them, and bring them back.  Like all primates, they are curious.  They can also steal eggs, bread, sometimes a chicken.  They are omnivores, but their diet is made up of up to 90% plant-based foods.  Their favorite plant food is thistles – these are prickly, but the inside is quite tasty.”
[13]

When asked if the Almasty wear clothing, Sidorenko answered: “Yes, they use human clothes.  There are lots of reports; cases which are connected to that.  For example, […]  Koffmann […] told me the following: A female Almasty was seen close to the village Kamenomostkoye [the neighbouring village of Sarmakovo  with Koffmann’s base] … When the eye witnesses were asked what she looked like, everyone said (as if they were all speaking together) that she was wearing a pink-colored dress with a large hole in the back side.  At that time, people didn’t believe the eye witnesses, but the interesting thing is, one year later she was seen again: this time from Alpinists, in a completely different area, a few dozen kilometers away, with the same dress and the same hole in the back. […]  I asked two Caucasians who lived with females [of Almasty].  They came to the humans themselves, because the people fed them, and tamed them, and then lived together with them.  People used them for help in the household: they carried sacks and took care of other heavy work.  But then they left.  Why?  The thing is, in a Muslim village, traditional relationships are very important.  The community was against this relationship.  Sooner or later, they would have had to get married, and this so-called woman would have been dangerous to the bride.  She also could have physically gotten rid of the bride – by biting her or breaking their neck. In one of these cases, when the human wanted to send the Almasty female away, she was offended and killed him.  That was in Balkaria [meant is the mountain part of Kabardino-Balkaria].  Currently, we are conducting our search there, because the population is the most stable there.  Based on our calculations, there are 12 specimen there.  […] “
[3]

He also said: “In order to get fingerprints, we filled warm wine, honey, and fragrant spices in a two-liter glass and set it on a path which they use to come out of the mountains.  And they came at night and drank.  It turned out, that they once drank a half-liter. […]”
 [3]  It’s currently not published if the fingerprints which were found in the Expedition 2008 were gotten in the same manner Sidorenko describes. It should be noted that Sidorenko gave his interviews to a  regional newspaper in his hometown.  Even today, there are many people in the provinces of the former Soviet Union - even those with advanced education - who don't live in the "consciousness" of the Internet age.

In 1995 Koffmann described in Archeologia that Gregory Panchenko tossed a glass container in a dump – with syrup as bait.  The container was fixed to the ground, because earlier containers had been taken away.  According to Koffmann, they were able to get fingerprints from the Almasty in this manner.  It was not reported when and where this happened.
 [14]
In October 2007, Panchenko held a lecture in the UK on the Almasty as part of an event from the British Center for Fortean Zoology.
[16]  In an internet publication of this center before the planned 2008 Expedition (British scientist hunt living cavemen in Russian mountains) it was reported: “Panchenko has seen the creature on four occasions inclcuding a hair rising encounter on a remote farm, when he got to within ten feet of the creature.” [11]  Meant is obviously the well-known encounter in the Kuruko valley from August 1991, close to Sarmakovo village, which Dmitri Bayanov described detailed.[15] Details about the other three of Panchenko’s encounters are not shared.

According to the information of a local informant of the German study group in the Caucasus, Panchenko had an encounter in the late 80s in Kabardino-Balkaria.  The informant could not remember the exact year, but he insisted that it was during the soviet time.  According to him Panchenko had at that time gotten the information that Almasty regularly searched the dump of the Balkarian village Bylym, in the middle part of the Baksan valley, for food at night. In Bylym lived at that time one of Koffmann's most important local informants in the Elbrus district, the Balkarian Khusejnaev, who died in the 90s. The information is said to have came from him. The dump, which exist also today, is situated on a slope, directly on the northern edge of the village.  At night Panchenko hid himself in an earth hole on the upper edge of this dump.  In the following night, he observed two Almasty, who were probably searching for food in the dump below him.  They left the area, and one of the Almasty went up the slope and passed Panchenko’s hiding place about 2-3 meters away from him.  It seemed he didn’t notice the observer.  Panchenko said that he felt fear.  The informant couldn’t share any more details. At present, it is not known if this encounter took place in the same dump mentioned by Koffmann in Archeologia in 1995.

      
 1   Zhukov, Andrej. 2005. Kramatorsk people on search of "Snowman". Tekhnopolis 31(681) August 4 (in Russian)
   
   See also: Ukrainian newspaper reported on an expedition in the Caucasus in 2005
 2   Tumenko, Vladimir. 2008. An expedition with a Kramatorsk membe went searching for the "Snowman". Vostochny Project, June 20 (in Russian)
 3    Beloborodov, Andrej. 2008.The Snow people love wine, steal salt and wear human clothes! (Foto report). Vostochny Project, September 4  (in Russian)
 4    Makarov, Vadim. 2002. Atlas of the Snowman. Moscow: Sputnik, p. 43 (in Russian)
 5    Panchenko, Gregory. 2002. Catalogue of Monsters. Moscow: Olma Press, p.181  (in Russian) 

 6    Tkachenko, Julia. 2008. A Donezk scientist helps the English with the search for the Snowman. Komsomol’skaja Pravda. June 23 (in Russian)
 7    Panchenko, Gregory. 2005. Eine Expedition in den Kaukasus 2005 - Auf der Suche nach dem Schneemenschen. Pterodactylus  24,25/ III+IV, p. 53 
 8    Almasty bones examined in Paris?
 9    Russian TV documentary about life and work of Dr. Marie-Jeanne Koffmann
10   Batokov, Alibek. 2008. He will search for Almasty. Adyge Psal'e 123/21.281 (in Circassian)
11   British scientist hunt living cavemen in Russian mountains
12   Freeman, Richard. 2008. The Russia Expedtition (Lecture in the UK)

13   Anonymous. 2008. Ukrainian found tracks and hair of the Snowman in Elbrus region. Komsomol'skaja Pravda (Ukraine edition), September 5 (in Russian)
14   Koffmann, Marie-Jeanne. 1995. Les hominoides reliques dans l’antiquite. Archeologia, 308, p. 60
15   Bayanov, Dmitri. 1996. In the footsteps of the Russian Snowman. Moscow: Crypto-Logos. p. 57-62

16   Panchenko, Gregory. 2007. The Russian Snowman. (Lecture in the UK)



April 10, 2009         

Two Russian Publications on an Expedition in the North Caucasus in 2008

From October 2008 until March 2009, Dr. Michael Trachtenherz published one article each from Gregory  Panchenko and Anatoly Sidorenko in his website www.alamas.ru, written in Russian.[1] These articles are currently deleted (Stand April 5, 2009).  The subject of both articles was the results of  their Caucasus expedition in summer 2008 in cooperation with a British research group. A translation and summary of the most significant parts of both articles follows.

Sidorenko’s article, A few words about an expedition, names the expedition’s work area as follows:  “The 2008 expedition for research of the so called  ´Snowman´, organized by the journal ´Ochevidnoe i Neveroadnoe´ [Obviously and Unbelievable] worked   in the traditional districts of research, in gorges … however,  as known for readers of the magazine, to namecall these  gorges is not desirable. [2] Shortly spoken, on the central part of the  mountain range, and in the high mountain zone of Prielbrusje.” Meant is the Elbrus region, Kabardino-Balkaria. Sidorenko writes, the field work was conducted according to the “Kharkov Method”.  This method was said to have been developed by Kharkov cryptozoologists.[3] It adheres to displaying bait in places where the Caucasus “Relic Hominoid” (“Almasty” - following the Kabardinian name for it) regularly appear and then observing it at night, among other actions. [4]

Sidorenko writes: “Unfortunately, the work in the  mountain range did not bring any important results about the Almasty – despite many prejudices, like many other animals, he migrates to the cooler mountain areas.  Yes, the Almasty camps which were found here the last few years belong to the winter period.  In the summer, the relic hominoid doesn’t spend a lot of time in this zone.”   According to Sidorenko, a trail was found, as well as a clearing with traces where two Almasty had eaten some plants – in the same location that his 2005 Expedition had determined.[5]  A few hundred meters away from this location, an “almost encounter” of the Almasty with the research group happened in 1983.  An Almasty approached the tents, and threw stones into the campfire from a great distance.  The attempt to find the body of an Almasty that a local had found 12 years ago and buried was not successful.[6] Close to this area, a camp is said to have been found  in a small cave, lined with plant material.  Hairs were found there, which will also be analyzed. The “Kkarkov Method” is said to have also included searching caves and examining their contents.  In this way, it could be determined that Almasty prefer small caves.  90% of the winter camps were found in such caves that are only used during the cold periods and then abandoned in the spring.  The use of night vision technology and automatic cameras is not said to have brought any success. Sidorenko:  “The best methods are, just as before, the old, traditional ones, which have stood the test of time.  Not everyone may agree with me, but in my opinion, the best is, as it always was, personal observation, a personal encounter, the own discovery.”

Gregory Panchenko’s article in www.alamas.ru about the same expedition was entitled “The Expedition of the Journal ´Ochevidnoe i Neverojadnoe´.” [7] According to him, the expedition lasted from July through September 2008, with small interruptions.  About the area of work, he writes: “The working area was primarily in Kabardino-Balkaria  - but not any more specific details, forgive me, it is risky to share this in a public forum: the mountain nature is fairly fragile and in the last 10 years has been significantly impacted by the ´human factor´.”  Panchenko writes that the researchers had been aware of the gorges where the 2008 expedition took place since more than 25 years: “New data, briefly summarized, is such: The results of the earlier expedition in this area – including the last, from 2005, with support of the German magazine ’Der Spiegel’ – were generally confirmed.  If one is to speak about the ´main object´ (this is, of course, the relic hominoid, local name ´Almasty´) the picture according to the dates from questioning the locals is more optimistic.  Yes, it’s a very rare being, on the border of becoming extinct.  In the Caucasus, there were many areas where one could regularly meet Almasty in the years before the war, less often in the 60s, but with the beginning of the  1980s, there were hardly any more reports about him.  But, even in OUR region, a surviving population could remain.  Even more: this population (based on the current, very modest signs) can be described as blossoming.  In any case, the Almasty don’t just live there, they are also reproducing.

From practically every expedition, we bring back new reports of children – and these are not about the same specimen: A young Almasty was in this region in the winter of 2003-2004 and summer of 2004.  Eyewitnesses compared him to a first grader, based on his size.  Yet, this summer we received data about a ´close´ observation of a child from last year, about the size of a one-and-a-half year old child.  The nice thing is that these reports aren’t dealing with orphaned or lost Almasty-children: The ´first grader´ was accompanied by a large, adult specimen, and there was also someone (the eyewitness couldn’t see it exactly, but it was most likely a single female specimen, the mother of the child) who was with the very small Almasty.  Finally, a few years ago, locals twice observed a strange group of three males (a fairly untypical situation for the Almasty, particularly today, where their numbers have drastically reduced).  Each of them was full grown, but when they were together one could recognize:  one of them was taller and more  ´solid´ then the other two. Three years ago this group split up.  The strong, single specimen is still met even today. […]  The former teenagers, after they grew up, left their families in order to start their own... […]

These, the research objects, are rarely also in a ´blossoming´ region and there are many messages which overlap each other.  This allows us to differentiate the Almasty from one another, and to recognize them based on their face, height, age, color, and territory.  Of course, it is harder to differ adult specimens of the same gender – but even that is possible.  Assuming that the single male named above, who spent much time with his two possible sons (?), is possibly the same mentioned in reports that come from the neighboring gorge (the height of the Almasty in both cases: 1.9 to 2 meters).  But that is apparently not the one that the researchers are thinking of, that he’s the father of the `first grader` (Two witnesses, who don’t know each other, claim that he is shorter than 2.3 meters).”

Panchenko writes further, that during the 2008 expedition three possible camps of the Almasty were found.  Analyses of the hair and excrement found there are pending.  He writes that such camps could have been found earlier.  Experts have determined that the hairs found there originate from a large primate. He shares that the expedition also received information about other “cryptids” such as giant snakes, hyenas, and leopards: “But there aren’t only scarce reports about the Caucasian leopards – there are many.  It is also ´tired´ of extinction and is multiplying (like the Almasty?).”

Expedition participants were also local helpers and Alexey Anokhov from Kiev.[8] A British expedition participant, Richard Freeman, held a lecture about the results of the expedition in the UK following it. In this lecture, he spoke about Panchenko’s discovery of skull fragments which were of a “non-human thickness” two weeks before the expedition.[9] This discovery was also mentioned in the expedition report which was published by the British group after the expedition.[10] 

The gorges of work for the 2008 expedition which were not  named in Panchenko’s  and Sidorenko’s articles was the middle and upper part of the Baksan valley and som of its sub-valleys: at first, the expedition worked in the Gushgit area – a sub valley of the middle Baksan valley next to the Balkarian village Bylym; later, in the upper part of the Baksan valley next to Nejtrino settlement and  Elbrus village.[11] It should be noted that the upper Baksan valley is the tourist center of the northern central Caucasus.  Numerous hotels, tourist hostels, Alpine camps and camping grounds are located there.  The region is part of the national park Prielbrusje (Elbrus region) – and lies about 40 miles southwest of the field research center in the Kabardinian village Sarmakovo, Zolsk district.  

The upper Baksan valley offers more essential, easy conditions for field work, compared with the other mountain regions of the republic: a well-developed infrastructure and – as the main source of information on the subject – natives who are habituated “outsiders” due to the large number of tourists.  The upper Baksan valley was the most-visited valley in Kabardino-Balkaria already during the soviet times.  Tourism almost completely stopped from the beginning of the 1990s due to the economic crisis in Russia and political instability in the Caucasus.  Since the end of the 90s the number of tourists has continued to climb – particularly in the last few years. The locals are more open when dealing with strangers because of the many tourists and  because they are a good chance for a part of the local population to earn some money.  Therefore, it is easier to find natives there who will speak more openly about the subject with a stranger than in other parts of the Republic. 

All the new information about  encounters made by Panchenko came from the valley with the largest anthropogenic influence in the mountain part of this republic.  In the western and eastern neighboring valleys, Chegem and Malka, – and beyond the Russian border with Georgia – this influences  are significantly less thanks to a less-dense population and almost no tourism. Panchenko’s declaration about the previous field situation in Kabardino-Balkaria quoted above is  significant: In the beginning of the 1980s, there were almost no reports on the Almasty.  However, his colleague Sidorenko, who  worked with him in  Dr. Marie-Jeanne Koffmann’s  team since the early 1980s  talked about his fieldwork in a newspaper interview in August 2008: ”Not a single year went by when we did’nt have an encounter or an observation of that being.” [12] In 1992, Koffmann published on the encounters she had recorded, that “...the observations [of Almasty], even if they are less frequent now [in reference to the 1960s] still come regularly.” [13]   In one of his interviews on the 2008 expedition, Sidorenko also said: “Currently we are conducting our search there.” [Meant is the mountain part of Kabardino-Balkaria]  “Based on our calculations there are  twelve  specimen there. […] ”.[14]  Adam Davies, a member of the British expedition group, wrote on Panchenko: “Grigoriy  speculates that there are  some 100-300 [specimens]  in the area we were operating in, and the figure doesn’t seem at all improbable, given the mountains and sparsely populated terrain we were in.”  [15]

Panchenkos’s characterization of the situation of the population as “extinction” which has been stopped now,  is doubtful because of following reasons: Broad and systematic investigations over the course of several decades were conducted only in the Zolsk district and parts of the neighboring districts in Kabardino-Balkaria.  This type of investigation in the complete Caucasus – or even only in the main range – was not possible due to the geography of the territory and the limited resources of the researchers.  The majority of the  ex-Soviet researcher’s data stems from the Zolsk district.  This district has a special place in the middle and western part of the North Caucasus due to the almost complete absence of a forest.  The forest area begins west and east of this area, which is said to be the Almasty preferred habitat.[16]  It is much harder to conduct investigations there, also because of the significantly smaller number of potential eye witnesses and more difficult conditions for oberservations.
It should be noted the hominoids can switch anytime to the large forest territories.  It has not had anthropogenic changes like in the Zolsk district – partly because the forest area is not heavily cultivated.  Also today there are reports about encounters in the Kabardino-Balkarian forest areas, just as from other Caucasus republics.  The distances between the locations of these encounters is so great that it is unlikely that it was always the same specimen which was observed. 

No new Caucasus field results were published by the ex-Soviet side from the time 1992 to 2002. In the west, there was also the opinion that the ex-Soviet researchers had left the Caucasus – in favor of other areas – and that due to the crisis in Russia field work was not taking place.[17]
Koffmann spent several months on field work in Sarmakovo village, Kabardino-Balkaria between 1992 - 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2005, sometimes with the help of colleagues.  Currently it is not known wether Koffmann worked also in other years in the Caucasus. 

Yet, a lecture by Dr Michel Trachtenherz – board member of the Russian  Society of Cryptozoologists (RSC) – was announced  for April 2009 during a conference in Belgium: Balance of 15 years of research on the wild and hairy man in the Caucasus. (Stand March 2009 ). It can be assumed that these 15 years refers to the time since 1992 – the year of the Koffmann-Pallix-Expedition in Kabardino-Balkaria. [18]  This lecture was cancelled. If this lecture will be held or published in the future one can expect a number of new, even “spectacular” encounter reports – even those with young specimens.  It is also possible that investigation results about the discovery of organic materials will be presented.  Such new encounters would support Panchenko’s claim of the “stopping of extinction” and a new regeneration of the assumed population.[19] If the lecture deals with the subject of research from the Soviet times, that would be particularly welcome: also today, the most important results of this field work are not known in the west. 

Panchenko’s claim of a new population regeneration  since the late 1990s and a situation which can be described with “extinction” contradicts reports of the natives which can also be documented nowadays. Anyone who today systematically collects reports about encounters in this region automatically gets also such from the 1980s and early 1990s, including such of juvenile specimens. An analysis of this reports does not show any clues that the population was ever close to extinction. His claim can also be seen as a part of a new information policy of the RSC: the attempt to explain the new reported encounters and observations which are obviously in contradiction to earlier declarations on the Almasty population.[20]

It must be remembered that significant field results from the Caucasus, were held back from the west by Koffmann and her Moscow colleagues over 40 years. Therefore, it was first published in 2002 that the ex-Soviet researchers, could again and again observe the hominoids in Kabardino-Balkaria, at least since the early 70s.[21]  For the majority of these encounters it is still unknown in the West who of the researchers, when, where, and how often  they could observe and under which work methods they occured. The situation in the Northern Caucasus is, based on the current knowledge, probably unique in Europe and its border areas: Regular encounters, even those in densely populated area, where single individuals live in close relationship to humans, also today.


 1  For more information on Sidorenko see: Anatoly Sidorenko about the British expedition 2008 and former Caucasus field work.
 2  This references to a magazine, published in Kharkov city/Ukraine, which Panchenko worked for as Editor-in-Chief in  2008.
     SeeA new Russian magazine with publications about “Relic Hominoids”
 3  Kharkov city, is the hometown of Gregory Panchenko in the eastern Ukraine. According Matt Salusbury he is the president of a
     Ukrainian cryptozoological organisation.
 4  Dr. Marie-Jeanne Koffmann published that bait was placed numerous times on a dump in the Caucasus. 
     It was possible to collect fingerprints from Almasty in this manner. 
     (Koffmann, Marie-Jeanne. 1995. Les hominoides reliques dans l’antiquite. Archeologia, 308, p. 60)
 5  Zhukov, Andrej. 2005. Kramatorsk people on search of "Snowman". Tekhnopolis 31(681) August 4 (in Russian)
 6  For details on this claimed finding see: Regarding the possible discovery of an Almasty corpse
 7  op. cit. (note 2)
 8  The son  of the Kiev physicist Dr Sergey Anokhov , director of the Institute of Applied Optics at the Ukrainian Academy of Science. Both have
     been involved with the research of the “relic hominoids” for many years: previously, they both worked in the Caucasus, in Kirov region
     [See: Encounters and research in Kirov region, Central European Russia] and in other parts of the old Soviet Union.
 9   Freeman, Richard. 2008. The Russia Expedtition (Lecture in the UK)
10  Downes, Jonathan and Freeman, Richard. 2008. Expedition report. Russia 2008. CFZ Press, p. 18
11  In 1997, the observation of an Almasty by multiple people close to Elbrus village became known through
      publications in Caucasus newspapers and all-Russian periodicals. See: Screams of Almasty?
12   Beloborodov, Andrej. 2008 The Snow people love wine, steal salt and wear human clothes! (Foto report). Vostochny Project, September 4  (in Russian)
13   Koffmann, Marie-Jeanne. 1992. L´Almasty yeti du Caucase. Mode de vie de´un hoimoide. Archeologia, 276, p. 56
14   op. cit. (note 12)   
15   Downes, Jonathan and Freeman, Richard. 2008. Expedition report. Russia 2008. CFZ Press, p.71
16   op. cit. (note 13), p. 55
17   Roche, Jean. 2000. Sauvages et Velus. Chambéry: Éditions Exergue, p. 58
18   For more information of this expedition see: The Koffmann-Pallix-Expedition ´Almasty 92´ in 1992.
      The film Almasty. Yeti du Caucase  was one of the results of this expedition.
19   Panchenko, Gregory. 2007. The Russian Snowman. (Lecture in the UK).  
20   This new tendency can also be seen as a reaction to the work of foreign researchers in the Caucasus. Sine the 1990s,
      Japanese, German and American teams have worked there independent of the RSC.
21   Makarov, Vadim. 2002. Atlas of the Snowman.  Moscow: Sputnik, p. 179             

Addendum (June 2009):
Among older articles in  www.alamas.ru  the two articles are again available.
                                                                                                                      


.
June 20, 2009

Footprints in the Northern Caucasus in 1978:  Finder and circumstances      

During the German study group’s field work in the Caucasus in autumn of  2005, it was searched for and questioned eye witnesses in the Balkarian village Kichmalka, district Zolsk, Kabardino-Balkaria. It was known from one of Koffmann’s publications in Zarja Kommunsima, the district newspaper, that the person who discovered the well-known 1978 tracks lived in this village: the Balkarian Ruslan Shamanov. The photos of these tracks are, most likely, the most frequently published from the former Soviet Union.[1]  Dmitri Bayanov describes these tracks as Koffmann’s “major achievement over the years” and wrote: "The footprints, by our best judgement, were truly left by an Almasty." [2] Vadim Makarov judged the photos and the plaster casts of the tracks as “the best in the USSR and possibly, the world.” [3]  In 1980, Koffmann published that tracks of such quality have been found for the first time in the world.[4] Until today, how this discovery came to be has only been published in detail by Koffmann in Russia and is therefore not well known in the west.

She describes the circumstances as follows: In Winter 1977-78, before the find of the tracks, the guard of a tourist station Dolina Narzanov, Ramazan Mudshaev, twice found prints in the fresh snow of humanoid, bare feet. He told this to Koffmann. She asked the tourist station employee for help and vigilance. In March 1978, some people including the brothers Ruslan and Iljas Shamanov, the scientist Khazan Umarov, the guard Ramazan Mudshaev and two workers from Nalchik, were spending the night in a small house on the river Khazaut, close to this tourist station. On the 10th of March at night, around 2 a.m., the dogs started barking loudly and incessantly. Ruslan Shamanov went outside and the dogs led him to a place in the moor about 150 meters away. In the light of the moon, he saw a dark figure similar to a human with long hair that hung downward. Koffmann: “Ruslan understood immediately who he was dealing with here. The young man and the being stood there a few moments and looked at each other silently.” Ruslan returned into the house and sleeped. On the next day, tracks were discovered in this location by Ruslan and Iljas Shamanov and were covered with a tarp. In total, there were about 12 footprints. The size of the being was estimated to be more than two meters; weight 200-230 kilos. Additionally, tracks in the sand were discovered at a different location. Later the brothers found additional tracks on a trail 600 meters upriver. Koffmann was informed of this by Iljas Shamanov and arrived at the site later.[5]

Vadim Makarov’s description of the circumstances is different than Koffmann’s. He writes: “…the guard explained that the dogs were barking very loudly at night, but when he went out, they were pressing against his legs. He didn’t see anything. However, in the morning, he discovered the tracks. In total, there were 23 prints, which were in a line. The lenght of the steps was about one meter. The specimen who visited the tourist station was not one of the biggest. His size was about 1,60 m. [6]

In a personal talk in September 2005 by members of the German study group with Ruslan Shamanov in his house in Kichmalka, he confirmed Koffmann’s account in Zarja Kommunisma and completed: At the time of the find, he was 18 years old and was working, like his father, as a gamekeeper and therefore he was staying in the Khazaut valley. When he saw the being, he first thought it was a bear in front of him. Then he noticed that it was larger than a bear and was walking on two legs. He had his hunting gun in his hand and was prepared to shoot. But then he remembered what his grandmother had once said to him: “If you shoot at Almostu, the bullet will come back and hit yourself !" Therefore, he didn’t shoot and the being disappeared.

He also reported that he had seen such a being when he was a child. This happened in the years 1968-1970 in the Karachay village Khazaut in the valley of the same name. At the time, he was about eight years old and slept in the same room as his parents and grandparents. The room was lit with a weak lamp. At night, he glimpsed a hairy being similar to a human, which was bent over the table. It was quickly eating some food from the table from its hands. All the time, it looked around nervously. Shamanov was afraid and shook his grandmother and pointed silently at the being. His grandmother held his mouth and pushed his head into the pillow so that he couldn‘t see anything. Later, the family never talked about this incident. Shamanov stressed that the creature he observed had long hair on his head, but it was not a dark color. Because of the weak light, he couldn‘t describe the hair color any better.

When he was asked about other eye witnesses, he told : as a teenager, he went with his father on a hunt once and a while. One time, they found tracks similar to humans in the snow, which Shamanov now thinks are Almasty tracks. He asked his father for the tracks. The father stomped over the tracks and claimed that they were bear tracks. But Shamanov, who knows bear tracks, is still convinced that they were Almasty tracks. He also explained that his father had seen Almasty several times himself, but never talked about it. During the talk, Ruslan Shamanov avoided the Balkarian word “Almostu” and instead spoke of “him.” When asked what he meant by this, he reluctantly replied: “He, who you asked about.” Furthermore, he used the Russian word “Domovoj” (house spirit) as a name for the subject. During the talk, he stressed that  “he” is a clever and cautious being, who is hard to observe. [7]

In 1982, Koffmann published that in April 1981, Ruslan Shamanov discovered in the snow near the village Khazaut, “a copy” of the tracks that were discovered in March 1978. She wrote: “They were made by the same being as those from March 1978.”[…] There was snow, you could follow the being.” [8In the talk with the Germans Ruslan Shamanov confirmed that find. However, he was not sure if these were tracks from the same being. In his opinion, the 1981 tracks were narrower as those from March 1978. According to his statement, he did not have any further encounters or track findings.[9]

bermamyt  

Khazaut valley with mount Great Bermamyt (2592 m). The valley is about 12 miles long and has been described by Koffmann as a place of frequent sightings (1992: 54).[10] The lower part of Khazaut is the border between Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkess. The village Khazaut, today nearly abandoned, lies at the upper end of this valley. Ruslan Shamanov said that he observed an Almasty in this village at night in his childhood.

 

shamanov1  
shamanov2
turbasa

The finders of the 1978 tracks: The Balkarian brothers Iljas (left) and Ruslan Shamanov (Kichmalka village, Kabardino-Balkaria, October 2005)
and  a part of the tourist station 'Dolina Narzanov' in  the Khazaut  valley.  Close to this station  Ruslan Shamanov saw  the being who left  the  tracks at night.



[1]    Photos of these footprints were published, among others, in:
        Bayanov, Dmitri; Burtsev, Igor; Porchnev, Boris. 1986. Snömannens Gata. Göteborg: 266-69.
        Bayanov, Dmitri. 1996. In the Footsteps of the Russian Snowman. Moscow: 39/40.;
        Koffmann, Marie-Jeanne. 1980. Wild ancestors. Do they exist? Zarja Kommunisma. 25 (2579) February 28: 4 (in Russian).
        Koffmann, Marie-Jeanne. 1991. L’Almasty. Yeti du Caucase. Archeologia. 269: 36;
        Makarov, Vadim. 2002. Atlas of the Snowman. Moscow: 180 (in Russian).
        Marikovsky, Pavel. 1991. Snowman. Myth and reality. Alma-Ata (in Russian).
[2]    Bayanov, Dmitri. 1996. In the footsteps of the Russian snowman. Moscow: Crypto Logos: 39.
[3]     Makarov, Vadim. 2002. Atlas oft he Snowman. Moscow: Sputnik Company: 180 (in Russian).
[4]     Koffmann, Marie-Jeanne. 1980. Wild ancestors. Do they exist? Zarja Kommunisma. 25 (2579) February 28: 4 (in Russian).
[5]     Koffmann, Marie-Jeanne. 1980. op. cit. (note 4).
[6]     Makarov, Vadim. 2002, op. cit. (note 3).
[7]     Personal communication with Ruslan Shamanov, Kichmalka, October 23, 2005.
[8]     Koffmann, Marie-Jeanne. 1982. The search is continued. New examinations in the area of research on “Snowman”.
        Zarja Kommunisma 13(2169) January 30: 4 (in Russian).
[9]     op. cit. (note 7).
[10]   Koffmann, Marie-Jeanne. 1992. L' Almasty du Caucase. Mode de vie d'un hominoide. Archeologia, 276.


 


August 10, 2003

Television team filmes "Snowman" tracks in Siberia

At the end of August 2002 the Moscow television channel ORT broadcast a documentary about a "Snowman" sighting in western Siberia in summer 2002. This was reported by various newspapers in the Russian Federation. Leonid Ivanov * gave the following report of  the encounter: Two boys from the village of Azovy, Vova Katschin and Sasha Sakharov, saw a "terrifying creature" in the river. Using it´s hands for support, it approached the river bank where the boys were. One of the boys ran to the village while the other was so shocked that at first he was unable to run away and was able to see the creature close-up. Later he was able to make a sketch which resembled a very hairy humanlike being.

Some of the villagers then visited the location and found humanlike footprints 62 centimetres long with a stride length fo over 2 metres. Local hunters also visited the spot. Scientists from an ornithological expedition working in the area heard about the encounter and visited the village three weeks later. Among them were the ORT reporters Natalya Astafaeva and Sergey Isakov, who were able to film and to examine the still visible traces. The weight of the creature was estimated at 200 kilos and the eyewitnesses were questioned in detail. A number of uprooted conifer trees were found in the locality and because these were too big for humans to uproot were believed to have been torn up by the "Snowman".

One of the Russian informants** of our study group, who was able to see the television documentary, gave a detailed E-mail report which included a number of items which supplemented the newspaper article: In the film the boys indicated the place where, having crossed the river***, the creature came on land. The width of the river was estimated to be between 80 and 100 metres. One of the eyewitnesses demonstrated how the creature had climbed up the bank on all fours. The entire bank was covered by short grass and the upper edge of the bank lay 6 to 8 metres above the river water level at angle of 30°.

The footprints were found in the coniferous forest next to the river bank, but in the TV report they were measured as being 65 centimetres long and the stride as being 2.10 metres. At the spot were one print was filmed, the forest floor is almost without vegetation and covered with pine needles. One of the uprootes conifers was shown in the film and it´s size estimated at 1.50 metres. The most experienced hunter of the area examined the tracks and described then as authentic. At the end of the television report Alexander Sorokin (director of a "laboratory for rare wild species") concluded that the creature was is an interesting subject for study where unconventional as opposed to traditional zoological methods should be used in research.

In his article Leonid Ivanov reported also about the stories told by old people from the village. They recalled that after the Second World War villagers from the area had found a toddler covered in body hair in a haystack. They took it home and fed it like their own children. Later scientists came and took the child away.The native people of the area, Khanty, called that creatures "Forest people" and avoid places of possible contact. There are rumours that these "Forest people" sleep in winter like bears. More eyewitnesses from western Siberia were mentioned. At the end of his report Ivanov points out that Vladimir Pushkarev, who disappeared while on an expedition in western Siberia, had worked on this subject in the Yamal-Nenets District and his expedition diaries had not been published to this day.

The locality of the sighting, the village of Azovy, is in the autonomous Yamal-Nenets District, whose territory is about three times the area of Great Britain. Politically, it is part of the Tjumen region and lies in the forest Tundra on the Small Mountain Ob, a tributary of the most western of the great Siberian rivers Ob. The 488,000 people (1996) inhabiting the Yamal - Nenets District are Russians, Tatars, Komi and ethnic Siberian Nenets and Khanty.

The area of the lower Ob is one of the significant "Snowman" territories of the former Soviet Union and was the destination of many expeditions. However, the names of only three researchers in the last century have been associated with this region in the West: Vladimir Pushkarev, Maya Bykova and Nikolay Avdeev. Pushkarev did not return from his expedition in September 1978. The area in which he disappeared is only about 150 kilometres west of Azovy village.

Speculations about the cause of his disappearance included the possibility that his death followed a meeting with a 'Wildman'. According to popular belief among the native people, the 'Wildman' is dangerous and can kill humans. In the last few decades a number of mysterious deaths have occured in the northern Ural and the adjoining areas. Several times people have not back from the Tundra. Some bodies found shortly after death showed no visible cause while others indicated a possible confrontation with a "wildman". Similar occurrences have been reported in other northern Russian regions.

*      Ivanov, Leonid (2002) 'Almesty', Adyge Psal'e (Circassian Word), 183 (19.803), Sept. 26, p. 3  (in Circassian).
**     Credit to Tatjana Maksimova (Kaliningrad) for sending the report. 
***    Small Mountain Ob river.


February 15, 2004

"Wildmen" sightings in Chechnya

As far is known in the West, the region of the old Soviet Republic Chechnya-Ingushetia 1) was never the subject of systematic field research into the problem of "relic hominids". Such work was carried out in other Caucasus republics, as for example in Azerbaidshan, Georgia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachaevo-Cirkassia and Abkhazia. For that reason the number of sightings reported from Chechnya in Russian literature is small. Porshnev (1963: 247) 2) mentions an attack by 'relic hominids' on natives in the Argun-valley/Chechnya in 1939-40.

The migration of people of non-chechen nationality, in the majority Russians, away from the capital Grozny and some of the large settlements in Chechnya began at the beginning of the 1990‘s. This was caused by worsening economic conditions and the beginning of ethnic conflicts. Military operations started in 1994 in the republic. Because of this, for the first time since the return of deported Chechen people in the 1950‘s, a large number of non-local people lived in the countryside. Since the subject was considered taboo by the indigenous population, the influx into the countryside was expected to generate new reports from the republic about "wildmen" sightings. There were several reports of captured or killed 'wildman' in the Caucasus from the time of the Second World War. Only one of these cases became known in the western literature: An Armenian medical officer of the soviet army, Vasghen Karapetian, had examined a captured Kaptar in Dagestan.

While working in the North Caucasus in the 1990s, members of our study group heard several times about "wildmen" encounters from Russian nationals in Chechnya during the 1990‘s but detailed information was not available. The first more precisely report was received by a Russian co-worker of our group in november 2001 from the Russian Major Alexander Mishenko, in Georgievsk town, Stavropol region, in South Russia. He said that in july 2001 his soldiers on guard duty in South Chechnya had reported seeing a strange being. They described a creature as „...large as a man but not a man, nor bear or wolf, without clothes and the whole body covered with dark hair like an ape.“ The creature moved in an upright stance and was observed at a distance of about 60 metres acrosss an open field for only a few seconds. The four color and sex could not be determined. This had happend at dusk in the mountains at about 1500 metres above sea level in the proximity of settlement Itum-Kale, Argun valley, about 35 miles south of the capital Grozny. More details about the locallity were not given. Mishenko aditionaly stated that he heard similar stories from Russian military personnel in Chechnya several times but he gave no attention to them.

In April 2002 Evgeny Kamyshev 3) wrote in the Russian newspaper Megapolis Express about a meeting between Chechen fighters and „strange apes“. The information came from the Arabian El-Buraida agency. The agency cited a Chechen „field commander": “About half a year ago we killed one of these strange apes which resemble people.“ He also stated that his fighters were still being annoyed by „triable relatives“ of the dead creature. They had caused stone alavanches and had attacked a fighter who had strayed from his unit. More details were not reported.

In connection with the discovery of "Snowman" excrements in the Novgorod region, Russia, in 2003, Nikita Rubzov 4)  wrote: „Valentin Sapunov thought that in today’s world the 'Snowman' is most likely to be found in ...Chechnya. Because scientists have noticed for along time: Snow people and many other animals appear were war is. It is astonishing that war creates fewer problems and disturbances for animals than the peaceful agriculture does. They quickly get used to shots and explosions.[...] “5).

Vadim Makarov, president of the Moscow Russian Society of Cryptozoologists until 2003, explained in June 2002 : „Already at the beginning of the 1990s, the Yeti began to migrate to Russia out of Central Asia and the Caucasus as armed conflict started. In the last years they have often been found in the areas Saratov, Tambov, Kostroma, Leningrad, Moscow. This had not happened in the thirty years history of researching this phenomenon! 6) The same opinion he expressed in december 2002 7).  The regions of armed conflict are relatively very small, limited territories when compared to the whole area of the Caucasus and soviet Central Asia. Because the hominids could get out of the way into neighbouring regions with the same ecological conditions, from where eyewitness accounts have been reported also in the last decade, Makarov's hypothesis is doubtful.


1   Today divided into two republics.
2   Porshnev, Boris. 1963.The present state in the question of the problem of relic hominids.
     Moscow: Viniti  (in Russian).
3   Kamyshev, Evgeny. 2002. Negroid ape practices revenge at Chechen fighters.  Megapolis Express,
     no. 15, April 15, p. 22  (in Russian).
4   Rubzov, Nikita, 2003. The ´Snowman´ excreted on a tree. Smena, September 30 (in Russian).
5   Biologist Dr. Valentin Sapunov is one of the leading Russian „Snowman“ spezialists.
6   Kuzina, Svetlana, 2002. The ´Snowman´ emigrates to Russia, Komsomol'skaya Pravda, 100, June 7,
     p.12  (in Russian). Interview with Vadim Makarov.
7   Makarov in: Smirnova, Julia. 2002. We made this Snowman..., Komsomol'skaja Pravda, no. 235,
     December 12, p.14  (in Russian). 




July 31, 2004

"A wild, almost animal-like fear".
Maya Bykova's co-worker about the encounters on Kola in 1988


The Moscow newspaper Versija (Version) published in 2000 a report 1)  on the "Snowman" expedition by their correspondent, Petr Kamenchenko, to the Kola peninsular. After that the editorial staff received many letters from readers. One of these appeared so noteworthy that the editors arranged a personal meeting with the reader. This was Victor Rogov, one of Maya Bykova’s closest colleagues during their fieldwork on Kola since 1988. According to Kamenchenko he has been active in fieldwork since 1980. The meeting of the editors with Rogov resulted in a further article 2)  in Versija in December 2000.

In August 1988 some teenagers on the banks of Lake Lovozero had encounters over several days with a hominid whom they called Afonya. (For a detailed description of the meetings see Yershov, 1996 3) ). In December 1988 Maya Bykova wrote in Bigfoot Co-op, “In September, three members of the Soviet Association of Cryptozoologists – Victor Rogov, Mikhail Gavrilov and myself – made a reconnaissance trip to the Kola Peninsula to check the reported sighting.” 4)   In one of her Russian publications about her fieldwork on Kola she wrote in 1991: In 1988 three [people] saw the invisible animal beyond the Arctic Circle (V. Rogov, M. Gavrilov and I ).” 5)   Bykova also reported about her own first observation of a hominid on Lake Lovozero in September 1988 in her book “He is, but he must not be.” (1991) and wrote, in addition, in the following words: “One month after these eventful happenings [referring to the experiences of the teenagers in August 1988] V.Rogov, M. Gavrilov and I were in the same cabin.”
[…] “There all three of saw him lying on the upper platform through the upper window.” […}“The stature of this creature which approached us surprised me and filled me with fear.”
6)

Under the section headline “A wild, almost animal-like fear “, Petr Kamenchenko quoted Victor Rogov with the following words: “In the summer of 1988 together with Maya Genrikhovna Bykova, an author of many articles and an extensive monograph 7)  about the mysterious relict hominids, we selected a place to continue our expedition. At this moment we received news from Lovozero, at that time a restricted area on the Kola peninsular, about meetings by local residents with a Snowmen. These sightings have been continuous and also occurred in the past. Now these observations are frequently taking place near inhabited areas. Even more, the Snowman has got into the habit, even in daylight, a coming to a hut used by local fishermen in the southerly part of the lake.

With great difficulty we (M.G. Bykova, Misha Gavrilov and I) reached the indicated place and settled down in the cabin and began to wait. The visit began already in the first night. Towards morning we heard a loud noise from the side of the rubbish tip as something large pushed its way through the bushes and clattered with the empty tins. On that side we had no window and therefore could not see who was there and were afraid to go out into the dark. On the third night someone tried to open the door and had then climbed on the roof and for a long time walked about on it. Fortunately, the roof held. In the morning we discovered an abundance of large tracks from an unknown animal. The tracks were 34 centimetres long and the running stride length more than 3 metres. During the day we searched the area and addition to the large tracks we also found smaller prints. But in a cleft in the rocks on the hillside we found a lair from which the animal could have watched us unnoticed.

This lair could not have been made by an ordinary animal, like a bear or a wolf. For that particular abilities are needed and one must have certain powers of reasoning. On the fourth night we succeeded in seeing the creature for the first time. It went around the small house and its head showed itself at the level of the only window, at a height of about 3 metres. When we saw this in the moonlight, what we had been searching after for so long, we suffered a real shock. The fear was wild, almost animal-like. One had ambivalent drives, to creep into the corner and hide and at the same time look and look. The rabbit must feel something like that when facing the snake. Afterwards, we saw the creature a few more times. And we were always frig.htened when it appeared. From the fear we could conclude that it was already somewhere nearby. [...]."

“The outward appearance of the creature was similar to a large humanlike ape with a height of 2.75 to 3 metres, with wide shoulders and extraordinarily developed muscles. The fur was light grey, medium length and the hind quarters almost white. Short strong neck, low forehead, strongly pronounced jaw. The face was almost without hair, covered with deep lines. The eyes were not particularly large and flickered angrily. We had almost immediately understood that we had invaded his domain and he wanted to drive us away. The fear was so great that we couldn’t photograph it and the camera was at that time also not good. We sent the material evidence of the animal, for which we had searched a long time, to Moscow: Hair, footprints, chewed rowan berries 8), excrement, painted pictures and photographs which unfortunately came to nothing. Maya Genrikhovna had acquaintances in the Police Institute where she had taken the pieces of fur we had found for an expert opinion. The final report stated: the fur belongs to no known animal species.” 2).

In her publication of April 1989, In the cabin on chicken legs (meant is the cabin on Lake Lovozero) Maya Bykova also mentions the lair found in September 1988, the chewed rowan berries, hair and footprints. There she wrote “In the year of these unusual happenings I was ready for a contact and had mastered a sound which imitated Afonya’s call. I was able to identify this with the help of Roman Leonov  9), who had heard it twice. We called Afonya after 11 o’clock at night on the 20th of September for a quarter of an hour. And he, although at this time who knows how far away he was, came back. That happened as, already despairing, we had returned to the hut. The third hour of the night began. He had warned us of his presence by twice throwing a stone on to the roof of the hut. Shortly thereafter he himself sprang on the roof, made a few jumps, walked twice backwards and forwards and had, I guess he had heard our exited whispers (we lay on the upper pallet), had lain down and tried on the side of the little window to reach us whisperers. His hand passed slowly across the window on to which I had pressed my face. Then he sprang down and went around the hut. I caught a glimpse of him in profile. Almost at the same time, I heard a long drawn-out yawn from behind the door. It was obviously unnatural, demonstrative. Mikhail Gavrilov wanted to go outside but together with Rogov we  10) held him back. There in the darkness he could have become ‘an object of investigation’ himself.” 11).

It must be recorded that according to Bykova and Rogov the described events took place in September 1988, a few weeks after Bykova’s second meeting with a Wildman in Western Siberia on the 22nd of August 1988. In her report of December 1988 about that second meeting with "Mecheny" Bykova mentions her fieldwork on Kola in September 1988. Her own encounter on Kola is not mentioned in this report 12). Agreeing with Rogov and Bykova, Leonid Yershov published in August 1989: “ […] Later in September, the site was visited by Maya Bykova and some others from Moscow. They found more tracks, exkrement, two suspicious little caves, or rather holes, in the hillside and collected more hair samples. Such, in short, were the results of the 1988 season. Hopes are pinned now on the summer of 1989.” 13).  The observation of the creature by Bykova and her colleagues in September 1988 is not mentioned by him.

Among the people who visited the locality on Lake Lovozero after the boys’ encounters and after the sightings by Bykova´s team were Igor Burtsev from Moscow and Marina Popovich, the well-known female Russian test pilot, who had participated on several "Snowman" expeditions. Five drawings 14)   of t "Afonya"– two of which are frontal views of the head based on the sightings at the cabin – were published by Bykova two years after the above mentioned encounters.

Vadim Makarov, President of the Moscow Russian Society of Cryptozoologists until 2003, also portrays in his book  Atlas of the Snowman (2002) the meetings between the teenagers and the wildman on Lake Lovozero. He describes Bykova’s fieldwork on Kola with only one sentence: “In 1989-91 M.G. Bykova made observations at these places, where according to her words she heard the cries and whistles of the Hominids a few times and several times successfully saw him but at a great [sic!] distance.” 15)    Makarov presents in a table 16)  with Russian fieldwork results in the same book Bykova’s own Wildman sightings on Kola for three years: 1989, 1990 and 1991. He doesn’t mention the year 1988 in which the above mentioned encounters took place.



 1    Kamenchenko, Petr. 2000. Hunt for the Yeti, Versija, 39  (in Russian).
 2    Kamenchenko, Petr. 2000. Tracks of unknown animals, Versija, 49, December 19, p. 25  (in Russian).
 3    Yershov, Leonid in: Bigfoot Co-op, August 1989; republished in Bayanov, D. 1996.  In the footsteps
       of theRussian Snowman
, Moscow: Crypto-Logos, pp. 190-201.
 4    Bykova, M. 1988. The second encounter with Mecheny, Bigfoot Co-op, December; republished in
       Bayanov, D. 1996. op. cit. (note 3), pp. 146-148.
 5    Bykova, M. 1991. Continuation follows, Tekhnika molodezhi, 4, pp. 59-61 (in Russian).
 6    Bykova, M. 1991.He is, but he must not be. Moscow: DRK Judshis, pp. 55, 59 (in Russian).
 7    Other Russian publications also mention the existence of an extensive monograph on the subject
       by Maya Bykova.
 8    Fruits of Sorbus spec.
 9    One of the teenagers who lived in the cabin on Lake Lovozero in August 1988.
10   ‘We’ means Maya Bykova, Victor Rogov and, according to Bykova (1991) op. cit. (note 6), p. 55:
       Dima K., biologist, graduate of the Moscow State University.

11    Bykova, M. 1989. In the cabin on chicken legs, Tekhnika molodezhi, 4, pp. 46-49 (in Russian).
12    Bykova, M. in Bayanov, D. 1996. op. cit. (note 3), pp. 146-148.
13    Yershov, L. 1996. op. cit. (note 3), p. 201.
14    In Bykova, M. 1990. Child of the Tundra, come to us’, Tekhnika molodezhi, 10, pp. 58-61 (in Russian).
15    Makarov, Vadim. 2002. Atlas of the Snowman. Moscow: Sputnik Company+, p. 64  (in Russian).
16    Makarov, V. 2002. op. cit. (note 15), p. 212.





October 24, 2004

"Snowman" encounters around Moscow

At the XXI Zigel conference on 19 November 2000 in Moscow, A. Klemeshov 1)  held a lecture with the title: “On the Observations of Relict Hominoids in the Moscow Province.” In this, he references, among other things, the following:

The history of the observation of relict hominoids or Snowpeople of the Moscow province covers more than just a century. Until the 12th century this territory was only sparsely settled, the future population of the Moscow area was predominantly Finno- Uigurian since these people lived primarily from hunting and fishing. Among the Finno- Uiguren there were stories of powerful forest giants, whose description gives us the right to assume that these are the prototype of the relic hominoids. [...] In the following, one must make certain that the discussion is, of course, not about the consistent presence of a sufficiently large group of hominoids in the area around Moscow. It is to assume that these beings only cross the Moscow province when they migrate from the neighboring area. Since the mid-50s it has been determined that the sightings of the relict hominoids are more often in the southern areas, and their path could only go through the Moscow area. The possibility that single examples live for some time in a sparsely populated pocket cannot be eliminated. [...].”

The Moscow newspaper Moskovskaja Pravda published a collection of "Snowman" encounters around Moscow in an anonymous article 2) in December 2000. These reports originated from different newspapers. There, among others, is a report from the newspaper Pionerskaja Pravda from August 16, 1926. Five ‘pioneers‘ (members of the communist children’s organization) were walking through what used to be a farm in Kolomensk 3). On a slope they noticed a “gigantic ape” about 2.5 meters tall. Moskovskaja Pravda writes: “ [...] The last report from this area [Kolomensk] was filed in 1955: On 10 July the police officer Karpov saw on the bottom of a canyon, 12 meters away from him, a ‘powerful being, about 2.5-3 meters tall, densely covered with gray-brown fur, with low hanging arms and a pressed-in head.’ The police officer shot at the being a few times with his pistol. He also reported this to his superiors through an official report.”
Moskovskaja Pravda
also mentions an event from the 17th century: “Another story belongs to the time of Czar Alexander Michailovich. In the same Kolomensk 3), in 1660, hunters in service of the Czar caught a densely furred monster about 3 meters tall with very long arms. The Czar ordered him to be delivered to the court, to present to foreign guests. But by fall, the animal had taken ill and soon died.”

In 1982, students from the University of Moscow were working during the potato harvest in the Serpuchovsk 4) area. In the forest they saw a “powerful red-haired ape, who disappeared with enormous speed between the trees a hundred meters away. It could not have been an escaped primate from the nearby zoo, because of the fact is that he ran on two legs. Even trained apes cannot run on two legs with that speed.”

According to Moskovskaja Pravda, in July 1986, 5 tourists were spending the night near the Moscow Vnukovo Airport 5). They could not fall asleep because someone was walking around their camp near the river and upset a bucket. In the morning, they discovered a fresh print of a large human foot, more the 45 centimeters long, on the river bank. In the 1990s, some people saw the hairy relict a few times in Chechovsk 6) and Istrinsk 7) area around Moscow. On July 26, 2000, a tourist observed in the forest near a children’s summer camp on the River Oka, in the Serpuchovsk 4) area, a large hairy being: “ ... It was as if he had sensed his gaze, held still for a moment, looked at the human with red-lighted eyes, and then went quietly on his way and disappeared between the trees...”  The being is described as follows: thick, gray fur, dark skin on his face and palms, a height from approximately 2.5 meters, very strong developed shoulders, practically without a neck, a pressed-in nose, a strong brow, a crest-like growth from the large head. “One had the impression that he sat directly on his shoulders.” The eyewitness remembers: The arms, which reached to the knees, moved as he walked, just like a human. The being moved quickly and without sound. The observation lasted about a minute. Since the forest floor was dry, there were no tracks found. In the following night, the being was seen three more time in the bush.

Mikhail Burleshin 8)  describes the following two encounters from the Moscow area in the newspaper Secrets of the Power. On the morning of November 13, 1998, Anatolij Dobrenko, guard at a child sanatorium in the village Samorjadkovo, Moscow area, went walking. He noticed the unusual behavior of his dog. He sniffed at fresh trails in the snow, but did not bark like usual, but returned with his tail between his legs. As he looked around, the guard saw the hairy back of a naked man disappear between the trees. By the time a “Specialist of the cryptozoological society” arrived on the scene, the tracks had already melted. In 1996, Mikhail Gavrilov from the village Avdotino, Stupino district 9), was fishing on the river Severka: “He sat without moving for a long time of the bank of the river. Suddenly a strange being surfaced out of the water right beside him. The fisher and the ‘underwater being’ were frozen from amazement, and Michail could get a good look at the surfaced being: narrow, low forehead, no eyebrows or eyelashes, eyes without pupils, narrow nose, head and shoulders covered with long (6-8) cm fur.”

Maya Bykova also describes in one of her books 10)  a sighting from the Moscow area: “Here is a report, written by me in our days from the words of my coworker E.F. Berezkina. My parents lived since 1947 in the Podolsk district 10), Moscow province (My mother still lives there). I remember my father’s stories from the hay harvest, about 1955-57, as I was still in school. In July, we moved the hay on afternoons to dry, and we laid down near the hay stacks. Father closed his eyes and after a few minutes sensed that someone was nearby. He opened his eyes and saw a naked human run by him, covered with long hair. Because of a few characteristics, he thought it was his wife. My sister, who was sitting on the other side of the hay stack, cried out when she saw the runner. [...] “ (Bykova, 1991: 37). “[...] Immediately after the second world war, there were known cases where this animal used the bunkers and trenches of the soldiers. I wrote down a story, that happened at the beginning of the 50s in the Voskresensk district 11), Moscow province (Sovchos Faustovo). It tells the story of my coworker L. Vazova: ‘The area here is picturesque, forests, two lakes, nearby the river Moskova. The 11-12 year old children from our Sovchos often went into the forests and played war games. Once they discovered an abandoned dirt hut in the forest... They were interested in it. They were curious to discover who lived there, because inside they found an oven and a cot. The children decided to observe the hut and once saw how a large hairy animal, who walked on his hind legs, entered, bending over at the entrance. They followed him, but there was no one in the hut, as if it has dissolved in the air. They ran home, screaming ‘In the forest lives a ghost or the devil’.“ (Bykova, 1991: 29)

Vadim Makarov also mentiones these two cases in his book Atlas of the Snowman (2002)  in shortened form in the chapter Present Areas of the Relict Hominoid (Testimony from Eyewitnesses) under the sub-headline Moscow province.12)
Additionally, the section Moscow province contains the following cases: “In 1924, V. Malova saw at the ‘Podsolnecnoje’ train station how two policemen brought two chained ‘wild hairy people’ to a train and took them to Moscow. Later, she tried to learn something about these ‘hairy people’ and asked around at the zoo and at a few museums, but did not learn anything. [...] In 1989, a refugee from Azerbaijan, who worked as a guard in a child sanatorium seven kilometers away from the Katuar train station, went out in the early morning with his dog on a path that led along the fence of the sanatorium. Suddenly the dog stopped and would not walk any further—she was scared of something. The guard looked in the direction of her gaze and saw the bent figure of some sort of being, who distanced himself from them on two legs. The height of this being was no less than 2 meters. The head was bent over and the guard could not see him. The wide shoulders, the massive back and the legs of the being were covered with brown hair. If it was not for the wide shoulders and back, he could have been mistaken for a bear. Later, the son of the guard and a friend went out on skis and searched the sanatorium surroundings. They discovered tracks, similar to those of a barefoot human, but too big for a human. In addition to these large tracks, there were smaller tracks nearby. The tracks led in a south-west direction.” (Makarov, 2002: 59)

Makarov's book includes the following information in a table of Soviet-Russian field results:
M. Trachtenherz / Moscow province, 1993: Testimony of an eyewitness, unclear tracks, approximately 35 cm.”  In his interview with Svetlana Kuzina 14), the Komsomolskaja Pravda quotes Makarov with the following words: „ [...] And in the last few years, one could meet them [Snowmen] frequently in the provinces Saratov, Tambov, Kostroma, Leningrad, Moscow. That was never so in the more than 30 year investigation of this phenomena !

The likely first report of "relict hominoids" around Moscow in the 20th century in the English language  was  made by Dmitri Bayanov in Bigfoot Co-op in February 1993, reprinted in his book  In the footsteps of the Russian Snowman (1996): “Our latest: on November 6, 1992, a giant wildman was seen by a reliable witness in a wood 37 kilometers north of Moscow ! That is the nearest sighting so far to the seat of our seminar. Now we keep our fingers crossed and look forward to the subject of our studies appearing live at our next seminar session.” (Bayanov, 1996: 216).

On the one hand, such encounters so close to a city of  9 million people seems unbelievable. On the other hand, one must consider the ecological conditions in the Moscow area, which are different than those of other European metropolis. Large wastelands and undeveloped forests reach to the city border. A few miles away from the city and off the main roads, one can find a landscape with villages that are isolated from the 20th century, with the exception of electrical power. They are hardly different than the settlements 500 miles further north in the Russian wilderness.

Hedrick Smith, correspondent for the New York Times in Moscow, and an excellent expert of Russian behavior, described the unchanged conditions in 1976 in his book The Russians 16) : “Follow the narod [people] into the countryside and the modern world peels away with astonishing suddenness. Not only the peasantry but the countryside presses in close around Moscow. It surprised me to see that just ten miles from the Kremlin, [...] city life and its modern conveniences simply come to an end. [...] It is as if modern civilization radiated outward from true cities in concentric circles and the further out, the fewer amenities, the harder the life." (Smith, 1976: 203).

 

 1   A. Klemeshov is a scientific consultant of the project 'Russian Traditions'.
 2   Anonymus (2000) 'Brother-2: Powerful, stinky and hairy', Moskovskaja Pravda (Moscow's True),
      225, Dec. 6, (in Russian).
 3   Kolomensk: Earlier the seat of the Czar, today within the city of Moscow,
      about 6 miles removed from the Kremlin.
 4   Town about 40 miles southeast of Moscow.
 5   Vnukovo airport, about 7 miles southwest of Moscow.
 6   Town about 30 miles southern of Moscow
 7   Town some 25 miles from Moscow.
 8   Burleshin, Mikhail (2002) 'A man goes in the snow ', Tajna Vlast' (Secret of Power), 25 (in Russian).
 9   Stupino town, about 45 miles southern of Moscow.
10   Bykova, Maya (1991) He is, but he must not be. Moscow: DRK Judshis (in Russian),
11   Voskresensk town, about 44 miles southern of Moscow.
12   Makarov, Vadim (2002) Atlas of the Snowman, Moscow: Sputnik Company+  (in Russian).
14   Kuzina, Svetlana (2002) 'The Snowman emigrates to Russia', Komsomol'skaja Pravda,
      100, June 7, p.12 (in Russian).
15   Bayanov, Dmitri (1996) In the footsteps of the Russian Snowman, Moscow: Crypto-Logos.
16   Smith, Hedrick (1976) The Russians, New York: Quadrangle/New York Times.
  



February 9, 2005

Russian publications on Igor Burtsev´s fieldwork in the USA

In August 2004, the Russian newspaper Komsomol'skaja Pravda reported in an article by Vladimir Lagovskij 1)  that the Moscow `Hominologist´ Igor Burtsev is expected on a farm in the USA. The residents of the farm claim to have contact to numerous Bigfoots. The farm is located in the Appalachian Mountains in the US state of Tennessee. The correspondent of the Komsmol'skaja Pravda, Andrej Kabannikov, is expecting Burtsev in Washington, and from there the two will travel into the Appalachians. Burtsev is described as an organizer and participant of many expeditions, as well as the “President of the ‘Kryptosphere’ Funds”  and the “Director of the International Center for Hominology”  in Moscow.

According to Komsomol'skaja Pravda, the contact between the farmers and the Bigfoots began in the 1940s. The grandfather of Janice Carter Coy, the current owner of the farm, cut down a tree from which a young Sasquatch fell. The grandfather took him home in order to treat his wounds. Later, two huge, hairy Bigfoots appeared and took the young one with then. The Sasquatch child began to visit the grandfather on the farm regularly, and was also given food. The grandfather explained to his family members that he was feeding a fox. This is how the Sasquatch got his nickname “Fox”. Janice Carter Coy saw the Sasquatch together with her grandfather for the first time in 1972. She was seven years old at the time. The grandfather died in 1996, at the age of 90. Janice left the farm for a few years, and when she returned, she rekindled the friendship with the Sasquatch. Janice Carter Coy: “At this time, he was already somewhat bent over and his originally black fur was turning gray, his beard had lost its fullness, and his head was already so bald that in the back you could see the neck vertebrae, two big bumps."

Komsomol'skaja Pravda writes: "Janice shares the following: Fox had had a girlfriend with the nickname Sheba, who gave birth to no less than seven children between 1973 and 1989. Some of them “married” each other, others with 'foreign' Sasquatch who had migrated there. The woman claims that some of the females trusted her so much that they would give her the 'Snow children' to hold in her arms. The ones who came to the farm: the grandfather Fox, his daughter Niki with her “husband” Bo and their son Shejatom, and another grandchild Kanoenej - a giant more than three meters tall and weighing more that 500 kilograms. That’s Janice approximation. Fox himself was not the strongest of the relatives according to her - he weighed about 300 kilograms.”  The same article contains an interview with Igor Burtsev:

[Burtsev:] “You see, Janice had trust in the Russian researchers. She read our book 'In the Footsteps of the Russian Snowman', which had been translated into English, and realized that we are not the type of people who want to kill him for future research.”
[Lagovskij:] “But what do you want?”
[Burtsev:] “We want to establish contact, become friends and take pictures. The founder of Hominology, Professor Porshnev, endorsed this methodology. He also has followers in the USA. But there are also 'Falkers' there-people who believe in violence. The lady of the house was afraid of them and would not let them come near the farm.”
[Lagovskij:] “But do the Americans even believe this Janice? Maybe she’s just crazy?”
[Burtsev:] “Only a few of the researchers believe that. But that doesn’t bother us. For the last two years we have written emails to her. We learned of many details, which are hard to make up. In my opinion: Janice is not lying. And there is a real chance that the 'Snow man' can by seen on her farm. It would be dumb to let that chance pass. [...] "
[Lagovskij:] “What does the lady feed her guests?”
[Burtsev:] “With dry dog food. Apparently they like that. And incidentally, 'Snowpeople' are probably omnivores. Just now I have received another piece of news from Janice. She writes that the Sasquatch had killed a billy goat. Not her own, rather that of the neighbour. Earlier, they caught sheep and dogs ... Is it possible that the natural food sources are no longer sufficient? If the Sasquatch’s hunger drives them to humans, that can only increase our chance of a meeting.”
[Lagovskij:] “Does that mean that the neighbours have seen a hairy giant?"
[Burtsev:] “It appears so.”
[Lagovskij]  “And?”
[Burtsev]  “And nothing. The local Hominologists would laugh at them.”
[Lagovskij:]  “And what it if turns out that ‘Fox’ is a naked and old Indian, who is particularly large?”
[Burtsev:]  “That’s unlikely. I have not yet told you everything. There is tangible evidence that the woman doesn’t have contact with humans. She has photographed one of the Sasquatch. She has promised to send the photo.”

Already  one  month  before this interview with Burtsev, Dmitri Bayanov 2)  published an article in the Russian journal  Svet. Priroda i Chelovek (`World. Nature and Man´) about what has happened in Tennessee. He writes that Mary Green, a Bigfoot researcher, and Janice Carter Coy have begun to write a book about their “Observations and Experiences” with Bigfoot on their farm. In order to do this, they asked Bayanov for permission to use material from his book  In the Footsteps of the Russian Snowman  for their own book. According to Bayanov, the Bigfoots on the farm receive their food in a bucket, which is hung on a tree branch overnight. Bayanov: “However, feeding the giants requires a good amount of money, and Janice’s family is not one of the richest. The hominologist Will Duncan, from the state of North Carolina, provides the money. He has stayed numerous times on Janice’s farm, has talked with family members, and questioned eye witnesses from the neighboring farms. Duncan doesn’t doubt the truth of Janice’s reports, and those of her relatives and neighbors.”

Bayanov writes that Janice has collected hair samples and has the expertise to do this. The Bigfoot destroyed a hidden camera and a recorder for voices. They hide themselves when Janice approaches with a camera or video recorder. Therefore, Will Duncan has bought a ‘spy camera’, which is worn in place of a button. Bayanov: “But she first has to learn how to use this difficult technology. There is also the problem that Janice now is afraid in the presence of the Bigfoot, which she wasn’t when her grandfather was nearby and could protect her at any time.” [...] “What impresses me, is that the information from her letters made such a strong impression on me because they contained details about the anatomy and behavior that she couldn’t have known from any book or source, she only knew them from direct observations of living specimens. [...] She describes the smallest details of its appearance and behavior, and what she knows about the intellectual capabilities goes beyond our previous conception of this being.”

On August 31th, Komsomol'skaja Pravda published a further article on this topic, written by Vladimir Lagovskij 3)  including a photo taken by Janice Carter Coy. In the photo, one can see trees. Three dark areas in the foliage are marked with white circles. According to Janice Carter Coy, these areas are the Bigfoots “Fox” and his two grandchildren. A body shape is not to be recognized. In the article Igor Burtsev comments on the photo with the following words: “That will do. The woman took the photo as best she could. She wrote to us that she was afraid.”

[Lagovskij:] “Weren’t you afraid?”
[Burtsev:] “Yes, of course, naturally. Therefore we are soon going with Andrej 4), your correspondent, to assess the situation. We must check that the Sasquatch really come. You will agree with me: to see them alone - that would be a sensation. Then we can look around and try, with help from Janice, to make contact with one of the ‘Snowpeople’. […]
I don’t think that Janice is telling us a tale-we have been exchanging letters for two years.”

According to Lakovskij, in March 2004 Janice Carter Coy took some hair from the forest being “Fox” during a meeting with him. Lagovskij: "Janice gave a sample of the pulled-out hair to the biology professor Henner Fahrenbach, who is a research assistant at the Research Center for Primates in Oregon. Recently, the results have come back from the expert. The hair, noted the scientist, comes without a doubt from a primate, to a being similar to a human, but not from modern man - Homo Sapiens - and none of the apes known to science. Fahrenbach was amazed at the unusual color of the hairs of the Sasquatch - ‘not even the original residents of Africa have such intensive pigmentation’ he wrote […]." Lagovskij writes further: “Janice Carter Coy is convinced that ‘her’ Sasquatch can speak. Naturally, not like us-the sounds come from somewhere from the depths of the throat, if not even a bit from the breast. As the grandfather of Janice, Robert Carter (who died in 1996) was alive, she started, with his help to write a dictionary of the language of the Sasquatch. Up till now, she has written the meaning of about 500 words-a colorful mixture of different Indian languages.[…] "  Burtsev: "Janis has taught Fox a few English words, which she recorded on a tape. She sent it to us and we can hear: Fox sounds hoarse and draws out his vowel sounds, as if he is sighing.".

In the next issue of Komsomol'skaja Pravda, Burtsev was quoted regarding his planned intentions on the farm as follows: “I don’t have a specific plan, but we have scouted out good places for an ambush […] and if it doesn’t work out as planned to make friendly contact, we’ll have to take a risk: photograph with a flash. I have a digital camera with me, night vision technology, a video camera, and a film camera with normal film.” 5)  According to the newspaper, Burtsev also wants to try and find the grave of a Bigfoot child. Janice Carter Coy is supposed to have mentioned that in 1973, she watched as one of “her” Bigfoots buried one of its children. She knows the location of the grave.

In a further article from Andrej Kabannikov 7)  in Komsomol'skaja Pravda on 18th October 2004, with is reported that Igor Burtsev has spent more than a month on the Farm in Tennessee. Kabannikov, the Komsomol'skaja Pravda correspondent in Washington, too, has visited the farm. The basement of the farm, is supposedly visited by Bigfoots. Burtsev placed lures on the floor of the basement, and spread wood chips to trace the footprints. After two days, footprints with a size of "42" appeared. The feet are turned in. According the oldest person on the farm, these tracks belong to a 160 cm tall Sasquatch, five years old, with the nickname Skwiki. The type of a foot is the result of a trauma. One can see on the sole of the foot are evidence of the trauma, in the form of outward bulges.

Burtsev: “The foot is 27 centimeters long, I made a plaster cast on which the toes and the specific bulges are easy to differentiate.”  Kabannikov: “Another interesting thing happened a few days after our departure. As Burtsev combed through the area, he discovered a camp of the Bigfoots. But there’s more, in this ‘nest’ he discovered an unusual ball made of loam, with a tuft of fur hanging out. One would think that the Bigfoot didn’t make it to pass the time, but rather as a plaything for their offspring."  Komsomol'skaja Pravda published a photo of Janice Carter Coy with such a ball. In addition to the footprint, Burtsev collected further material: “Hair, small stones, branches that has been worked on, and a full packet of excrement.”

Kabannikov writes about the grave of the Bigfoot child: “We found it without a problem. The only problem is that the land now belongs to the neighbours. […] The neighbour angrily refused an exhumation.” 6)  During the time Burtsev was on the farm, it was also visited by a film crew from National Geographic. Kabannikov: “As Burtsev left the farm, he was enthusiastic of the signs of the presence of the Bigfoot. And he regrets that the expedition was so short.” 7)

A few weeks after Burtsev`s visit to the farm, on October 28, Mary Greens website www.tnbigfootlady.com  was taken down. She took leave of her readers with, amog other things, the following words: " ...It's time for me to move away all of the negative forces that finally resulted in my decision to leave bigfoot research on the web to other more bave sould. I will continue my work and research [...] on the web: www.chattahoocheebigfoot.org."
In the (no shut down) last version of her website, she made known of, according to her, "wild accusations" which has been made against her in connection with her research.
The visit of "Doctor Burtsev" on the farm was mentioned. In the website, some statements from Dr. Fahrenbach were pulished regarding hair found on the Carter farm, in which he writes: " [...] In all its characteristics this hair agrees with those of primate hair in addidtion to closely resembling my previous samples of purported sasquatch hair (including the typical reddish underlying the blach pigmentation) collected in the field under compelling circumstances. I'm confident [...] that the sample is sasquatch hair." 8)



1   Lagovskij, Vladimir (2004) 'Hello Sasquatch', Komsomol'skaja Pravda, August 30 (in Russian).
2   Bayanov, Dmitri (2004) 'As a guest of the Snowmen', Svet.Priroda i Chelovek, No. 7, 30-31 (in Russian).
3   Lagovskij, Vladimir (2004) 'Hello Sasuaqatch', Komsomol'skaja Pravda, August 31 (in Russian).
4   Andrej Kabannikov, Washington correspondent of Komsomol'skaja Pravda.
5   Lagovskij, Vladimir (2004) `Hello Sasquatch´, Komsomol'skaja Pravda, September 2 (in Russian).
6   Kabannikov, Andrej (2004) `Well, where are you Sasquatch?´, Komsomol'skaja Pravada,
     September 18 (in Russian).
7   Kabannikov, Andrej (2004) `Sasquatches are not to be caught like a house ghost´,
     Komsomol'skaja Pravda, October 18 (in Russian).
8    http://www.tnbigfootlady.com (2004).


Photographs of Igor Burtsev's visit on the Carter farm:
www.bigfootlady.net/igorsvisit.html
www.bigfootlady.net/igor.html
Further reading:
Burtsev, Igor: Russian Hominologist in Tennessee. (http://www.alamas.ru/eng/publicat/Burtsev2.htm)





March 17, 2005

Encounters and research in
Kirov province, Central European Russia  ( I )
 

For decades, there have been reports from locals who claim to have observed hairy creatures similar to man in the Kirov province and the neighboring provinces. The capital of the province, Kirov, (population: 460.000) was named in 1936 after the first secretary of the St. Petersburg communist party, Sergej Kirov. The city lies on the Vjatka river, about 560 miles east of Moscow. The old name of the city, Vjatka, is still used by the people today. Since 1999, primarily the regional media of the province reports of many stories on the topic. Therefore, the province has been visited by Russian TV teams, journalists, scientists and other researchers. [1]  Various expedition groups have also visited the region, including the Moscow "hominologists" Igor Burtsev and Gleb Koval. The following contains a selection of significant parts from publications out of Russian local and national newspapers from the last few years.

In a talk with Svetlana Kuzmina, published in Komsomol'skaja Pravda in October 2003, when asked questions about where one must go to make a movie about the 'Snowman', Dmitri Bayanov replied,  “In the Vjatka forest in the Kirov province. A few families of the Yeti live there. In the last few years, they and their camp-set up in the form of a tent made of broken tree trunks 5-7 cm thick-have been seen by locals. There are also such ‘shelters’ in the forests, seen by American researchers. However, they claim this is how the Bigfoots mark their territory. Recently, we have installed infrared camera in rings around these ‘tents’ in the Vjatka forest, which will be able to fix on the Yeti. But the main concern is that curious people don’t steal and break the machinery.” [2]

The Kirov newspaper Gubernskie Vesti wrote in October 2003, among other things: “In these days, Mr. Bayanov is expected in the Vjatka forests, more specifically, in Kirov , from where he wanted to break off and go with our local scientists on an excursion in the forest. Thus begins the mystification. Somewhere along the way Bayanov got lost; his telephones in Moscow and his mobile phone remained quiet. And because, up till now, we can’t locate the scientists from the capital, we are interested to know from his colleagues in Kirov: ‘Do Snowpeople really live in the Vjatka forests?’ ” [3]

Julia Smirnova wrote in Komsomol'skaja Pravda in August 2002: “Our special correspondent Nikolaj Varsegov, hunted the ‘Snowman’ in the Vjatka forests, which has been terrorizing the local population for many years. […] The ‘Snowman’, also called the forest spirit, Yeti, Lesnoj, Shilikun, etc., has lived in the Vjatka area since prehistoric times. Even the father of my mother explained that at the beginning of the 20s in his village Goskovshina, 20 Werst [about 12 miles] from Vjatka (today Kirov ) the old magician Anisim had become close friends with a Leshij. Therefore, everyone was afraid of Anisim and gave him a part of the harvest, so that the village was free from epidemics, fire, or something else. In the 60s, we village boys heard a lot about the ‘forest uncle,’ but treated it like they were stories about bears. We never did meet the one legend or the other, but we did know there were areas where we weren’t allowed to collect mushrooms. [...] But in the current Vjatka, there are no longer so many places where the forest spirit ('Snowman', Yeti) can live. One of these areas - Verkhoshishemsk, is 80 km south of Kirov . Yet even 40 years ago a number of Yetis settled in this inaccessible Taiga. Local hunters claimed that because of deforestation of the northern forests, with the roar of the motors and shouting, forced des Yeti to move to quieter areas." [4]

Julia Smirnova quoted Nina Ulanova, editor-in-chief of the local newspaper Verkhov’ja Shichmi“There is a place here on the red river that is regarded as bad. No one ever cut the grass, collected mushrooms or berries, and everyone went out of their way to avoid it. Our village was not too far away. Once as children we decided to go there, because we were too late for school. There were four of us - 10 to 12 years old. There was beautiful May weather, the forest became green. Just as we had crossed the creek, we saw on the forest edge a large human figure, tall, but less than three meters. He stood 50 meters away from us, with huge broad shoulders, heavily covered with gray fur, but the most interesting this was - it was as if he was on a TV screen; it looked as if he had been drawn on a surface. Naturally,we were shocked and ran away.” [4]

The following was reported in Gubernskie Vesti about Eduard Kopytov, an inhabitant of the village Zabolote in the Kirov province: “He claims that the Snowman has lived in this territory of Verkhoshishemsk since the 50s. Eduard’s grandfather, Afanasij Petrovich, worked as a forester and in March 1957 saw a whole family of ‘Snowpeople’ in the area of the old street of Verkhoshishemsk-Orikhi. Another man drove down the same street in a winter in a horse drawn sleigh. That happened in the 50s. He says a Leshij suddenly jumped onto the sleigh. The horse was startled, and ran, practically flew, to the village and pressed in the barn door. The Leshij jumped off before the village. The man hid in fear in the sauna and his friends were able to revive him with home-distilled vodka. [...] ” [3]

The newspaper Trud wrote in the article “The ‘Snowman’ from Vjatka” in November 2003 about the experience of the forester Ivan Konovalov, who has worked in the Kirov area for 30 years. His report about an encounter in November 1985 is described as follows: “Snowflakes were falling. I moved through the evergreen forest and suddenly heard a loud noise. I turned around and saw a fearsome being, two heads taller than me and covered in long dark fur. He emitted a permeating smell. The animal braced himself against a sapling to push it to the ground. The reasonably thick tree bent under his pressure. Suddenly he sensed something and turned his face to me. Two deeply set black eyes looked at me, and I can never forget or describe their expression. Then he stopped his activity and quickly removed himself. I stood as if I had been hit by lightening and couldn’t move.' After this coincidence, the forester started to seek out the snowman to meet him once again. He met him face-to-face twice more. The second time it was a female Yeti with a child. She saw him and disappeared into the forest with low sighs, similar to a dog’s growl. He wanted to follow her tracks, but was stiffened, and for the week afterwards was restless, with insomnia and heart pains." [5]

In the same article, one can also read:  “The hunter Vasilij Kapustin explained that he has often seen traces of the ‘Snowman’ and once he was able to meet him. The hairy being had attacked a young elk, had thrown him over his back and was going into the forest. When he saw the human, he was startled, gave him a surprised look, emitted a shout and jumped away as fast as lightening. Kapustin stayed there 15 minutes, according to him, and then went in the direction of the village. There, he suddenly looked at the clock-and saw that four hours had passed. He had a headache, similar to that which comes from homemade vodka. This hunter is not known as someone who tells tall tales.” [5]

Another encounter, reported in Gubernskie Vesti: “Alexander Mushikin, a pupil, went fishing with a friend in 2000. Near the Vakshinsk fjord on the River Vjatka he saw a being with a tall stature, thin body and long arms and legs. The being was colored black. Mushikin called for his friend and pointed to the unusual being, which was neither man nor ape. When the being heard the call, he disappeared into the forest with large steps. He didn’t leave any traces on the ground - it was too hard.” [3]

In November 2003, the newspaper Versty  published a story of the forester Boris Liberov, from the village Suvodi, which lies on the border of the Orikhevsk and Verkhoshishemsk areas.  “It just happened. I can show you the exact location: in the 123 rd quadrant of the forestry, half a kilometer away from the street that leads to Razbojno Bora, after Verkhoshishemsk and through the earlier village Oktjabrskaja. The forest is inaccessible there. It’s about 30-40 years old - not suitable for economic use. Therefore, no one comes to this location, other than hunters and me - during work. [...] I had shot a hazel grouse. And there-another! I shot with buckshot. The bird fell, and I began to look for it. Suddenly, I sensed that I was not alone. Someone was there. I heard a twig break. I just thought: an elk. And then, out of the evergreens 30 meters in front of me, came a figure. I couldn’t understand what it was. It was certainly not a bear, and naturally not an elk. It was an animal or something else - but no less than 2.5 meters tall. The head was similar to a human, but it was very large. Light gray fur. He stood and looked at me, and showed no traces of aggression. I can’t remember anything else.

Suddenly, another came out of the brush, but much smaller, apparently a child. He jumped out of the brush to see me better. But maybe it was just badly behaved. The adult tried to calm him, and gave him a light slap on the head with his paw. Then I snapped out of my astonished state and ran away. To tell you the truth: I was really afraid. I’m not afraid of bears, I have a police whistle and bears don’t like that sound. I’m also not afraid of wolves, because in the forest in the fall they find enough for themselves. But I was really afraid of this unknown thing. It was a very unusual being. [...] On the next day I went back there: but I didn’t find footprints or hair - I found absolutely nothing. There was only one unusual thing: there, where they had stood, were blackberry vines. All the berries had been picked, but not like a bear does it, rather  it was accurate, as if they had been picked by hand. I believe that it was a snowman. I read about them once in a book. This was very similar to them.” [6]

What really kicked off the interest in the 'Snowpeople' in the Kirov province are the reports of the hunter Valerij Sergeev, now in retirement, who claims to have observed 'Snowpeople' in the Kirov area many times. He has often gone to authorities with the request to create a state reserve on the marked territory to protect that 'Snowpeople'. The stories of his encounters have been published in various local and regional newspapers, including Komsomol'skaja Pravda, Trud, Vjatskij Kraj, Gubernskie Vesti and Vjatskij Nabljudatel’. A few of these encounters have been made public with some variances in the story’s content between newspapers. The different newspapers data about the frequency and start of Sergeev’s encounters are contradictory. The beginning of his encounters is given as the years 1969 [7], 1978 [4], and 1982 [18].

Trud  wrote in October 2000 about Sergeev’s encounters: “It began with the retired Valerij Sergeev’s visit to the editors of the local newspaper ‘Vesti’, who explained that since 1969 he as met the so-called 'Snowman' four times - a family of ‘wild people’, as he calls them. Valerij observed these beings in the evening dusk from a distance of 100-200 meters. He found their camps-caves with a diameter of 60-70 centimeters and not very deep. And naturally he has seen their tracks. The last time in the previous year, he followed their tracks eight kilometers. The retiree has told almost no one-he didn’t want to make a fool of himself. Just recently he decided to talk about it. According to Sergeev’s words, he estimates the Yeti family has lived not far from him since the end of the 60s. There were two adults and two children. When Sergeev saw the little ones, they reminded him (if you believe him) of sheepdogs that stood on their hind legs. He explains the appearance of the unusual beings as follows: ‘They are not massive. A bit crooked, with thick, dark wool. The front side is lighter. The head is massive, the ears small, the face is hairy and has a typical ape nose. The noises which are cried out are a bracing whistle. The tracks are similar to both bears and humans. They differentiate themselves from animals, because they don’t have claws and a pronounced silhouette. One of the toes ‘looks’ to the side. A typical print is 30-35 centimeters long, at the toes its 12-15 cm wide.’ In Sergeev’s opinion, the 'Leshak' is active at dusk and night, does not hibernate in the winter and moves according to the tracks of the wild pig herds.” [7]

Komsmol'skaja Pravda quotes Valerij Sergeev as follows: “ 'The first of these cases happened in August 1978', the former hunter recalls. 'I was collecting blackberries o n the swamp, and suddenly saw the tracks of large, bare, human feet. A bit later, I heard that someone was following me, hidden in the vines. I called, ‘Who’s there?’ but the reply was a large branch thrown at me from 30 meters away. I said, ‘who’s playing tricks?!’ and over the grassy area came three women in heavy fur coats, as it appeared to me. The second time was the beginning of the 80s. I was hunting game and came to the abandoned village Goljama. Suddenly I saw on the other side of the bank hollow two hairy beings, coming toward me on thick hind legs. As they approached, I realized that these were young, half-grown ‘Snowpeople.’ I drew my weapon, and at that moment, a sharp whistle came from the old sauna, 50 meters away, and a large figure appeared, probably the mother. She waved with her arms, as if she was calling the children toward her. They whistled back, but continued moving toward me. Then, with large steps she cut off their path and positioned herself between me and them.

There were 20 meters separating me and her, and I could observe them well. The faces were round and black, like black people, without hair. There were only little chin hairs. They were more similar to apes then men. The noses were pushed in. You couldn’t see the eyes, just a very prominent brow. Their bodies were covered with a thick, red-brown fur. Large chest, wide shoulders, long arms reaching practically to their knees. Later, I was hunting once on the red river. Suddenly I heard noises in the brush 150 meters from me, and on the meadow emerged a ‘Snowman’ male, but a completely different type than the female. He was more than two meters tall, very similar to the Neanderthal in the museum. He had bushy, light hair on his head, his face was light gray. He gestured forcefully with his arms, as if to say ‘Go away!’ I shot into the air, he whistled, but from the thicket came another whistle. I didn’t want to tempt fate and left.”
[4]

Another story of Sergeev: “At the end of October 1980 or 81 we were driving on a forest road with an ‘Uazik’ [Russian Offroad Vehicle]. It grew dark: suddenly, a herd of wild pigs ran in front of our car and immediately following-an upright figure. My first thought was: this is a wild pig, walking on his hind legs. But at the figure on ‘two legs’ got further away, we realized: ‘That’s our wild man.’ It didn’t happen too far away from the village Zonikha on the Sovod river.” [8]

Andrej Polozov wrote in Trud  in October 2000 that he visited the former hunting grounds of Valerij Sergeev, with Sergeev and the hunter and journalist Sergej Ostanin. In Polozov’s report, one can read: “ […] ’There, on this side of the forest  […] is a bear cave,’ said Valerij ‘There is their camp.’ After we had wandered around the whole day, we came to a large, dried out puddle. Sergeev bent down on his knee and looked at something unrelated. ‘Here they are!’ … There was a chain of tracks in the mud, directly on the forest path. But you couldn’t follow them, because they were immediately lost in the sand. The clearest print was the first one, 35 centimeters long, from a bare left foot. One could see the prints of the five toes particularly well: the foot apparently slipped in the direction of the dried puddle. The track of the right foot—one meter away, as if the being had stepped to the side; the third print was harder to see; the fourth and fifth were lost. We decided that these were 3-4 weeks old. From the length of the stride were determined that ‘It’ must be about 2 meters, 30 centimeters tall. We came back with a car and made a plaster cast. All of this happened in a corner of the Kirov region, 130 kilometers south of the region’s center. Naturally, we showed the plaster cast to specialists […]” [7]

In November 2003, Trud  reported that members of the Russian organisation ‘Kosmopoisk’ (Cosmos-Search), along with two hunters were on the search for the “Snowman” in the forests of Kirov district. The leader of the organization, Vadim Chernobrov, was quoted as follows, “Nights, we pitched camp on a large grassy area. In my backpack, I had various pieces of bait, which we hoped would help us to lure the Snowman. During the first night, we were very tired and didn’t have any energy to put out the bait. They stayed in my tent. We put out the fire and set up a night watchman - a young searcher from Vjatka. I fell asleep and can’t remember anything. The first thing we discovered in the morning, was that my tent had been ripped, as if someone had been at the fabric with their teeth and tried to get inside. The backpack was a half a meter away; I went out and it was as if a brick had hit me: our watchman sat on the treetop of a pine tree and clung to the prickly branches. He held a small hatchet, and had cut off all the branches under him. We could only get him down after a lot of trouble. The fellow was white as a sheet from shock. He couldn’t say anything, he just packed his things and went off the direction of the village. It’s a long and somewhat dangerous way, but the fear to stay in the camp was clearly stronger. In the next nights, we sent out experienced watchmen. They couldn’t report anything terrible. The rings of bait laid out around the camp didn’t bring any success. But on the day that we went deeper into the forest, we found unusual things: trees accurately cut down, as if for a wood stock; on the trees were traces of teeth or claws. And in the forest the searchers found a ‘camp’ made up of tree trunks, that had been bent precisely in half.” [5]

According to Trud, Vadim Chernobrov went into this “Wigwam” and saw that the ground had been covered with branches and foliage. There was no one inside. Twigs were piled up in the middle of the room. Chernobrov moved them away and saw a hole in the floor, about one meter in diameter. The searchers believe that this is related to an underground tunnel, however, without special equipment they did not trust themselves to go in. Polina Dobroljubova interviewed Vadim Kudryavtsev, leader of the Novosibirsk branch of ‘Kosmopoisk’ in the “Parlamentskaja Gazeta” in January 2004. Kudryavtsev says that the discovery of this supposed camp of the 'Snowman' is related to the fact that footprints and tufts of fur were also discovered there. Kudryavtsev: “ […] When we allowed local scientists to examine them, they confirmed that this very thick, red fur did not belong to any of the known mammals in the Kirov province. […]” [9]

In 2002, in the Kurortnaja Gazeta Maria Anan’eva quoted Vadim Chernobrov with the following words regarding the camp that was found, assumed to be that of a 'Snowman' : “Inside, we discovered tracks of the Hominoid. They were 45 cm long and the stride was 95-105 centimeters. He can reach trees 260 cm high and bend them! We did not find other signs of life of the Snow man. We showed our video footage and photos to American crypto- zoologists. They noted that the Kirov hominoid’s camp is identical to the winter camp of the Snowman which was found in America .” [10]

In October 2003, Gubernskie Vesti also published the report of another field researcher participant: Andrej Tshemodanov. He is described as the “Kirov colleague” of Dmitri Bayanov. The newspaper quotes him as follows: “ […]  Honestly, it began for me two years ago. At the time I worked for an environmental protection organization, and a unique person came to me - Valerij Sergeev. He explained to me that he is known to a ‘snow man’ family. […] Two things made me listen to him: first, he was not just someone ‘off the street,’ rather, he had worked many years as a hunter in the Verkhoshishemsk area; he was in ‘public service’. Secondly, he explained such details that would be hard to just make up. A normal person would not even think about such details, but they are meaningful to a biologist. […]  

Yeah, and honestly, despite all this I still couldn’t believe that it was all true - it seemed to me a lot like a miracle. He wanted to take me with, he said, to show me and prove it. Shortly thereafter came a group of cryptozoologists from Moscow , under the leadership of Burtsev. With them was the correspondent Telnov from the newspaper ‘Zhizn’, which loves sensation. These people put a lot of pressure on me. On June 6, 2002 , we set off together on an ‘excursion’ in the Verkhoshishemsk forest. With us was a hunter, rational and calm; one who doesn’t believe in God or the devil, and therefore believes in the ‘Snowman’.

We searched the entire day, and combed through half of the area. The localities there are close and calm. If there was a division of German tanks stationed there, you wouldn’t find them very fast. Since the end of the 60s there have been quite a few abandoned villages. We discovered some type of tracks twice, and Sergeev was convinced that  t h e s e  were it, but when we got closer, these proved to be bear tracks or another type, but not human. But then, when we were tired and the only thought on our mind was going home and having a cold beer, we saw from our car a print on the street, which from a distance looked similar to a hoofprint from an elk. We stopped the car. The hunter went to the print and stopped cold a few meters in front of it. We called to him: What’s there? But he only murmured and his eyes bulged out of his head. And there were mosquitoes everywhere….  

I also went there. And you know, if you would say that I had a shock, that would be an understatement. I was completely in something like a trance. In the middle of the damp sand (the street was softened by the rain) I saw the clear imprint of a bare foot. It was a shocking size! […] That wasn’t the only print. There were two others, less clear, on the edge of the path, one meter apart (imagine the size of the stride!). The print itself was 56 centimeters long. Further away, the prints disappeared into the moss, which reached to the side of the path. It was not possible to follow them. […]  

Shortly thereafter, we set off on a trip to the surrounding villages, in order to find other eye witnesses. We didn’t have to search long; the people came out of their own initiative and talked. Earlier, they didn’t say anything, because no one believed that their stories could be true. They were afraid that people would take them for a patient from the Ganina hospital. Now they say: Now it is possible to talk. And they told us many details, which would be hard to make up. In the village Suvodi we found a forester named Liberov, who had once met a very unusual family, which he first thought were bears. He only saw them about 3-4 seconds, but his trained eye ‘photographed’ some details which appeared unusual to him. The color of the fur and the length of the extremities did not seem to be like that of bears. There was a female with children, and she gave them a slap on the bottom, like humans. We made a map, which showed the places where the unusual sightings happened, as told by the eye witnesses. This is the way we were able to get a picture of the general area of this being’s habitat: between the Kishkilja and Shishmy rivers. […]  In August of this year the Moscovits same again, but at that time others […]

The second expedition: […]  I saw unusual pines, ‘broken’ off in the height of 2-3 meters, in the form of an oriental tent. Marks on the trees, which couldn’t have been made by elks, also appeared unusual to us. Elks peel the bark about two meters up, from top to bottom. Imagine, there was an entire row of asps, peeled by elks, and then suddenly some trees are peeled in a different height: 2.5-3 meters high; and the bark was peeled in a different manner. These were all indirect clues. […] At the end of October- November, God willing, we should start on the next expedition.”  [3]

 kirov



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( II )   March 21, 2005  
 
In June 2002, the Kirov newspaper Vjatskij Nabljudatel’ reported that tracks of the 'Snowman' were documented in the Kirov area by pictures and video, and writes:  “…and that is the first documented confirmation of the existence of the mysterious ‘Snowman’. […] Since it had just rained and only a small circle had been used, a falsification can be completely eliminated.” [11]  In one of the following editions of the same newspaper, it is reported that the mentioned video footage had been obviously destroyed in the editing rooms of  Vjatskij Nabljudatel’.[12]  According to the newspaper Bol'shaja Zhizn the biology professor Sergej Korytin stated, regarding the film footage of these tracks: “It is really a sensation! Judging by the size of the track, the height of the being is more than two meters. And he weighs not 200 kilograms, more like 300. […]  I had already been told in the 60s that hunters had met him, by the former chairman of the district- hunter’s society of Kirov, Nikodin Permjakov. And there are thousands of these facts all through Russia. To not consider them would be dumb. […]  It’s important that we seriously investigate this problem. We need a well equipped expedition - then we will soon be able to solve the riddle of this being.”  [13]

The Moscow ‘Hominologist’ Igor Burtsev gave an interview in the newspaper Vjatskij Kraj in connection with the events near Kirov, which was published in May 2002. In this interview, Burtsev is described as the “leading specialist for relic hominoids in Russia" . Following are some of the significant parts of this interview:
[Polozov:] “Igor, you’ve been searching for 37 years, but you haven’t achieved the most important thing: the biological being itself hasn’t yet been discovered… . Isn’t it about time to admit that the Snowman doesn’t exist?”
[Burtsev:] “I don’t agree with that. We have reasons to believe the opposite. First, we have approximately 5000 drawings from the stories of eye witnesses who have met him. […] Second, how can one explain the tracks? […] I have personally made plaster casts of the tracks that we discovered in the Caucasus . Furthermore, there are historical witnesses. […] Fourth, we have the remains of his bodily functions. I have personally photographed excrement in the Caucasus. You must imagine, one of these ‘sausages’ measures half a meter stretched out.”
[Polozov:] “Wait one second, why can’t you take this to a laboratory, to prove the existence of the ‘Bigfoot’ once and for all?”
[Burtsev:] “That’s what we’ve done - we’ve taken it to a laboratory. But they could only determine: in there were eggs from a parasite that the being had eaten, etc. Who does that convince? […] All of this brings us to the conclusion: Yes, a this type does exist - a being similar to humans, a ‘Hominoid’, possibly a surviving Neanderthal - not our ancestors, but some sort of parallel subspecies.”

[Polozov:] “What made you believe in the Snowman and to occupy yourself with it?”
[Burtsev:] ”The first impulse was in the Caucasus, 1965. A local resident met the wild humans - Almasty, as she called them. What we can determine, is that she was collecting twigs in a small valley and ran into something: a heavily furred body, red eyes that didn’t blink.”
[Polozov:] “It is possible that it only appeared to her?”
[Burtsev:] “You could accuse her of that. She was so frightened, I saw her - she couldn’t have imagined it. And since them I’ve been infected with the ‘Snowman’. After that we went to Abkhazia to search for the grave of Zana. […] “
[Polozov:] “You believed one single report from the Kirov area and came here. How can ‘It’ live in such a densely populated area? In the end, what does it ‘It’ eat?”
[Burtsev:] ”By now we have learned to test, to check, the different statement against each other. In this case, I have reasons to accept that the witnesses of journalists, that the stories of Sergeev are believable. In order to fake tracks here, you would need a lot of money. […] Someone told me that in this area there are up to 5000 bears. Have you met them very often? For a dozen specimens, it is entirely possible to eat and hide. […] ”
[Polozov:] “Today there are so many hunters… Why has no one accidentally shot a Snowman while of the hunt for bears and elks?”
[Burtsev:] ”Sometimes there are these killings. There are also eye witness reports of these. But what does a hunter think - if he’s practically shot a human, possibly a peasant gone wild? What does he need these problems for? […]”
[Polozov:] “Igor, these search parties, expeditions, can’t be cheap…”
[Burtsev:] “We have always traveled on our own money. Sometimes the press has helped: Komsomolka, Priroda i Chelovek, Tekhnika Molodezhi. To travel to Kirov, I first contacted Moskovskij Komsomolez. They published my conclusions about the search for Zana’s grave. They turned me down. But the newspaper Zhizn sent me and their correspondents to Vjatka. Now, we are also accepted in foreign countries. Lots of scientific centers and funds help. […]”

[Polozov:] “Okay, and what are your results form the travels to Vjatka?”
[Burtsev:] “I believe that here there are good conditions to make a base, or a test ground, for the Snowman research. It’s not just about the forests, because he could always migrate… Right now in Middle-Asia and the Caucasus there is war. In the north and in Siberia there are very bad working conditions, and yes, it is far and expensive. But Kirov is, in principle, the center of Russia . Reports of meetings are coming from the neighboring areas - Perm , Vologda , Nishegorod… Here, in the robber’s forest are lots of abandoned villages, where one could build a few houses to live there an to watch the nature. I think, in summer we will be able to make that a reality. The most important thing is, I have found a couple of well-educated people, who go through life without blinders and who are interested in being involved in this problem. There are representatives from the state hunting organisation, the nature protection agency, and scientific organizations. […] “
[Polozov:] “Igor, is your ultimate goal to catch the Snowman and to prove his existence to the entire world?”
[Burtsev:]  “No, for me what’s important is to research the being in his natural habitat. And the  skeptics  don’t  deserve  to  have  him  presented  to them on a platter - in a cage in the zoo.”  [14]

A further interview with Igor Burtsev was published in December 2003 in the newspaper Gubernskie Vesti :  “ […] Igor tells us about his Vjatka experience with the Snowman, whom he affectionately calls ‘Gosha’. His colleague from Vjatka, Anatoli Fokin, helped him to remember the details, who has practically lived exclusively in the forest for more that a year.”

[Interviewer:] “Igor, why have you directed your attention to the Vjatka forest? There are others similar and closer.”
[Burtsev:] “Our interest in the Vjatka forest began, relatively speaking, a short time ago, when one of your land’s people, the retired hunter Valerij Sergeev called me. He invited exclusively hominology experts to come to Vjatka to see him, because, he said, a few families of Snowpeople live here. The following statements came to Moscow , saying ‘This fall there is the possibility to meet with a Snowpeople family… Four adults and 5 children… in fall during the first snowfall there are some migrations to the nest. Don’t come any later than April 25. That could possibly be the last chance to meet with the Snowpeople.’ You decide: could someone resist such an invitation? […] On this trip we only reached Verkholipo - because of the snow. There were only about 6-7 Kilometers to get to the place where people have meet the hominoids. The next expedition through the Vjatka forests took place without me. They were led by A. Chemodanov. They traveled about 550 Kilometers and found fresh tracks of the Snowman (Gubernskije Vesti wrote about that).”
[Interviewer:] “This current trip to the Vjatka forests is your second? What have you found?”

[Burtsev:] “Yes, this is my second time here. I hope that it is not the last. I can’t show any large success, but I have collected indirect clues that the Snowpeople were here.”
[Interviewer:] “Such as?”
[Burtsev:] “I don’t want to talk about it. You understand, there are so many practical jokers and I don’t want that my honesty brings about fakes. People can leave tracks for idiots - and that can delay the search. But I can say exactly that he was here and we have found clues. These are tracks of his presence. Incidentally, some of the tracks can’t just be left behind by humans. For example, with Anatoli we tried to bend an evergreen in the height in which it was bent - and couldn’t do it. For this one would need an unusual strength. Therefore we have to take it seriously to examine every tree, because nature can bend trees, too - through snow, wind, etc. […]  At first they noticed Vadim Chernobrov, leader of the research group of Kosmopoisk.The last year in the Vjatka forests they found a place where there were many of these tress - an complete line. They created a bow-like shelter. They claim that this is the camp of the Snowman. But a portion of these trees that were fairly thick, were broken. It’s clear that human strength can’t break these trees. […] Chernobrov thought that it was the abandoned camp of the Snowpeople. […] I am in close contact with Americans and they wrote to me, they have observed on a farm in the state Tennessee for four years a family of wild people - there is a father, mother, and two children who are already grown. The son has a particularly aggressive nature - the father not so. But the interesting this is, when I wrote to the Americans about this find, they told me that something like this is not his camp. This is how he marks his territory. He claims it. I received photographs from there with similarly broken trees. They also claim to have seen themselves, how the wild people do that. […] ”

[Fokin:] “We have set up technology that reacts to motion. The camera worked nine times, but in only one picture there was a family of wild pigs. It could be that the apparatus registered the movement, but it took a few seconds for the signal to register and the camera to work. And he could have already hid himself. […]”
[Interviewer:] “Do you want to come here another time? Or is there nothing more here for you to do?”
[Burtsev:] “In the last 3-4 years this was an area that offered a lot of perspectives, in comparison to other areas, even with the Pamirs. But now the hominoids might even be in neighboring regions. We have to go there and examine everything. I think that we must search in three areas: Sovetskaja, Verkhoshishemsk and Oritshevskovo. If everything runs well, I’ll definitely come.”
[Interviewer.] “Tell me, honestly: Why all of this? 38 years of searching, little evidence, and the results - the majority is doubtful.”
[Burtsev:] “Really? I have a dream: to have a photograph of me arm in arm with a Snowman.”
The newspaper published, as a supplement to the interview, statements about the 'Snowman' from residents of the Kirov province from the 50s, 70s, and recent years. [8]

In the website of the Moscow publishing house Provinzia, their correspondent Sergej Petrunin reported in 2003 about his search for the 'Snowman' in the forests of Kirov . According to his statements, he was traveling there together with Valerij Sergeev, Igor Burzev, and Gleb Koval. According to www.alamas.ru (on the stand in 2003), Gleb Koval is one of the Vice presidents of the Russian Society of Cryptozoologists, comes from Kirov, but now lives in Moscow. Petrunin:  “ […] Even before us, in the last year, people have tried to find the Leshij. And because the Leshij possesses magical powers, we invited sensitive people. People with untraditional abilities have limited the area of the search with the help of biological frames, they have determined a concrete forest area where the Snowpeople live. The searchers have set up a camp of tents and have set out scented bait, and... by the first night they had been ‘attacked’ from someone: someone ran around in circles, whistled, and made knocking noises, just like the time we spent the night in the dead village of Shidel. In the morning, we discovered the same large, flat footprints, with toes without claws, and even a fallen tree.

In the morning, the bio frames from the sensitive people showed the way to the Leshij camp. But as soon as we had made it through the inaccessible forest and the trees, who knows who had chopped them down, and had pressed through to the camp, we all had problems with our health. […] The heart beat strongly and hurt. You could sense an outside influence. […] If everything on our trip before could still be called a terrible dirt road, now it was just […] a large path, from Aksonnovo to Verkholipovo, though the abandoned village Mokrusha. That is the epicenter of the Snowman. This is where our real 'Camel-Trophy' began; the car was pushed this way and that. And then we practically drove into a toppled tree, which was laying there from the last logging. What saved us the master ability of our driver Gleb Bogdanov-Koval. ‘That was probably done in winter - that wasn’t so last fall’ said the earlier hunter Valerij Sergeev, who’s seen the hominoid more than once. He took in the hundreds of square meters, and shook his head defeated: there is no way now to the nest of the Leshij. What the last expedition discovered can’t show us any more. […]

The only thing that remains is to search for new nests - the laws of biology still apply, and two populations of hominoids have lived here since prehistoric times, so therefore there must be a population here, even if it is small. We couldn’t realize our ‘Napoleonic plan.’ An unknown power has had a terrible impact on our expedition. First, our scientific leader, Igor Burtsev, wasn’t doing well. He became nauseous and his temperature reached a critical level. He vomited violently and had pains in his heart. He collapsed in the backset and couldn’t stand up anymore. ‘To be honest, I didn’t rule out that I would die there!” he said later. ‘That was certainly a metal hit for him!’ said Gleb Koval. […]”
 [15]

In the Nishni Nogorod city newspaper, Prospekt, Petrunin also writes, that when he was in the forests of Kirov, he experienced more than once an unexplainable restlessness, which once turned into true fear. Furthermore, he reports that when he was together with Igor Burtsev, Gleb Koval, and Valerij Sergeev in the Verkhoshishemsk district, he found tracks of a large, flat foot, "size 46”, with large toes without claws. The print was photographed. Later the group claims to have found more prints which were clearer. Petrunin says these prints were also photographed. Petrunin continues to say that the group heard a “quiet whistle”. 30 meters away, they noticed a “dark shadow”  which was photographed by Gleb Koval. [16]

Also in the website of Proviniza Petrunin writes under the subheadline “Vjatka’s ‘fairy tale’ picture of the Leshji is very similar to that with the hunter Sergeev heard and saw”:
“The Leshji, or Lesovik, is a forest demon in Russian mythology, the czar of all animals and birds, a rational being. In the Vjatka area, he is imagined to have wide shoulders, is clothed in dark animal fur and has a dark, human face without eyebrows. His eyes ‘glow’ (light up in the dark?). The tracks of the Leshij are wide, flat, and larger than human tracks. The Leshij doesn’t live alone, but rather with his wife - the Leshatshikha,who has very long breasts - and children in a hut, that is similar to a hunter’s hut (the Leshij doesn’t appear without explanation, like a ghost, but procreates in a natural fashion, like humans). To build his shelter, the Leshij prefers the deepest pine forest, where humans don’t come. He can also spend short times in abandoned villages. The Leshij only ‘rules’ the forest when it’s warm - he disappears someplace during the winter (do they hibernate?). The Leshij can’t speak - he can only whistle and scream. When he stands, he is taller than humans, but […] apparently he moves on two as well as four extremities. He can quickly appear, and then disappears again from sight. […]”  [15]

The Leshiy is a forest spirit or demon and an important figure in Russian folklore. Names like Leshij, Leshak, Lesnoj and Lesovik derives from the Russian word "les" (=forest). In 2003, Dr. Mikhail Trachtenherz announced in his website www.alamas.ru, for the first volume of Gominologia [today Vestnik Gominologii (Courier of Hominology)], a publication of Igor Burtsev and Gleb Koval on the “Details on the current developments of the events in Vjatka”. Vestnik Gominolgii  is a new journal published by the Moscow "hominologists", and should have, according to www.alamas.ru (on the stand in July 2003), 6 issues a year.

The numerous newspaper reports as well as the reports of regional radio stations about the 'Snowman' or Leshij in the Kirov province could lead to the conclusion, that in this area, in contrast to the neighboring areas like the republics of Marij El and Komi, that an unusually high number of encounters happened here during the last years. Actually, the field situation in some of the neighboring areas is not significant different. There, too, every year brings observations of the "Snowman" by the locals. Reports about the encounters here, however, are rarely related in the media. The reason for the many media stories in Kirov is that one resident, who is believed to be honest, claims to have seen such beings more than once. He has personally sought contact to the media and public institutions to lobby for the protection of the “forest people”. The areas of his observations, given by him, all lie relativity close (40-50 miles) to the large city Kirov. The places of the encounters are easy to reach through the existing infrastructure, which is not in place in some of the areas further east and north.

The existence of the abandoned villages, mentioned in the publications, are a result of the general migration to the cities during the Soviet times, which continues on today, and was further stimulated by the economic developments after Gorbachov. The causes lie in the difficult lifestyle in the Russian villages. Hedrick Smith, a correspondent for the New York Times  in Moscow and well-versed in Russian behaviors wrote about this in 1976 (p.203) : “In the ‘non black earth zone’ of north Central Russia, a region roughly as far north as Hudson Bay and with an inhospitable climate to mach, the writer Boris Mozhayev lamented not long ago that village life is ‘decaying slowly disintegrating’. He described what I myself have seen on drives north of Moscow : peasant cabins listing from neglect, and the uncamped pasture land slowly giving way to the returning underbrush.”  [17]

The work of the Moscow researchers in the area stimulated further media interest and publications - also because the expedition participants themselves have sought out contact to journalists and report about their work. The majority of the country population consists of  90% Russians in the Kirov province. This has made the situation easier for Russian researchers, who have often been confronted with the resentment against Russians by non-Russian residents, particularly since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In total, however, the newspaper reports only provide an incomplete picture of the field research that has happened. The continuation of this can be expected in the coming years, as a result of the good conditions explained above.

Translations from the Russian by K.C. Beyer and T. Maksimova.



 1    Anonymous (2003) `On the border: The Snowman slipt away´,Vjatskij Kraj, April 2 (in Russian).
 2    Kuzmina, Svetlana (2003) `One hundred thousand dollars for he who proves: the Snowman is a fake´,
       Komsomol’skaja Pravda, October 1, p. 2 (in Russian).
 3    Vetrova, Polina (2003) `Yeti - He exists´, Gubernskie Vesti, 80, October 17 (in Russian).
 4    Smirnova, Julia (2002) `Adults and children believe: somewhere the Yeti is walking´,
       Komsomol’skaja Pravda, 150, August 21, p. 8 (in Russian).
 5    Mamina, Julia (2003) `The “Snowman” from Vjatka´, Trud, 221, November 27 (in Russian).
 6    Shishkin, Vladimir (2003) `The Leshij knows him`, Versty, November 28 (in Russian).
 7    Polozov, Andrej (2000) `To believe or not to believe? The Snowman is around Vjatka´,
      Trud, 198, October 21, p. 6 (in Russian).
 8    Anonymous (2003) `In the camp of the Snowman´, Gubernskie Vesti, December 21 (in Russian).
 9    Dobroljubova, Polina (2004) `On the tracks of “Snowman”´, Parlamentskaja Gazeta, 1371, January 31 (in Russian).
10   Anan’eva, Maria (2002) `The winter camp of the Snowman. Kurortnaja Gazeta, 197-198 (19807-19808),        
       December 21 (in Russian).
11   Grekov, Mikhail (2002) `Scientific expedition from Kirov discovered tracks of an unknown being´,
       Vjatskij Nabljudatel’, June 26 (in Russian).
12   Grekov, Mikhail (2002) `The Snowman is on the run´, Vjatskij Nabljudatel’, July 30 (in Russian).
13   Anonymous (2002) `On the tracks of the “Snowman” ´, Bol'shaja Zhizn, June 26, 18-19 (in Russian).
14    Polozov, Andrej (2002) `The Snowman is not a myth: it’s possible he lives near Vjatka´,
       Vjatskij Kraj, Mai 1 (in Russian).
15    Petrunin, Sergej (2003) `Searching for the Vjatka Leshij´, part III, www.sobkor.ru
        (Provinzia publishing house, Moscow), June 4 (in Russian).
16    Petrunin, Sergej (2003) `Searching for the Vjatka Leshij´ (part 2), Prospekt, 22 (218), May 27, (in Russian).
17    Smith, Hedrick (1976) `The Russians´, New York : Quadrangle/NewYorkTimes Book.
18    Petrunin, Sergej (2003) `Searching for the Vjatka Leshij´ (part 1), Prospekt, 21 (217), May 20, (in Russian).


Further publications on 'Snowman' in Kirov province:

Anonymous (1999) `The Discovery of the “Snowman”´, Nezavisimaja Gazeta, August 27 (in Russian).
Anonymous (2002) `On the tracks of Snowman´, Bol’shaja Zhizn, 119, June 26 (in Russian).
Anonymous (2003) `Where Does Our Yeti Live?´, Vjatskij Kraj , May 8 (in Russian).
Anonymous (2004) `Tracks of the Snowman were not discovered´, Vjatskij Kraj, January 1 (in Russian).
Anufrieva, Vera (2002) `On search for Vjakta’s Leshij´, Vjatskij Kraj, November 29 (in Russian).
Burtsev, Igor (2004) `On the tracks of Vjatka’s Leshij´, Svet, Priroda i Chelovek, 5 (in Russian).
Leskova, Natalja (2003) `Snowman from Vjatka´, Nezavisimaja Gazeta, December 24 (in Russian).
Okhajzina, Lisa (2002) `And we’ll register them in the Red Book!´, Versty , 95 (in Russian).
Petrunin, Sergej (2003) ) `Searching for the Vjatka Leshij´ (part 3), Prospekt, 23 (219), June 3 (in Russian).
Varsegov, Nikolaj (2004) `A Snowman Hunter´, Komsomol’skaja Pravda, June 29 (in Russian).
Vylegshanina, Tatjana (2004) `Snowpeople ´, Vjatskij Kraj , September 11 (in Russian).




March 29, 2005

Questioning of a possible eye-witness in the village Psygansu, Caucasus

In August 2003 the newspaper Gazeta Juga from the city Nalchik in Kabardino-Balkaria, North Caucasus, published a report about an encounter between an 18-year-old Kabardinian named Salim Bolov, from the village Psygansu and an Almasty.* Because such observations are not usually reported in the local media I visited this village to check out the case, during my field research in the Caucasus. I traveled to Psygansu in September 2004. This is a typical Kabardinian village, which stretches for a few miles along the right bank of the Cherek River. Villagers confirmed that there was an Salim Bolov in the village. I arrived at the Bolovs house and met a middle aged woman, she said that she was Bolov’s mother. I explained why I had come. She confirmed that her son had seen “something like that”. I learned that Salim was spending the week in the capital city Nalchik, but would be back next Sunday. I announced that I would visit again the evening of that Sunday. On October 3, I went once again in the late afternoon to Psygansu. In front of the family’s house I met Salim’s father, Zuper Bolov, who had probably expected me. After a few minutes Salim appeared. I greeted him in Russian and explained the reason why I had come. He appeared embarrassed, but confirmed with a few words that he had experienced what had been reported in Gazeta Juga. I was invited into the house for tea.

The following interview was conducted in Russian. Salim and his parents were present. The mother served us, but did not participate in the discussion, which is usual for the region. The father and son spoke a basic Russian with a strong accent. The embarrassment and distance between the locals and strangers, which is often present with this topic, disappeared once I used a few Kabardinian phrases, which cheered up the family. As typical for the region, the father dominated the talk, answered for his son more than once, interrupted the conversation and added to it. I had to ask more than once that the son should be the one to answer my questions.

Salim Bolov’s description agreed, for the most part, with the one that the newspaper had reported.** After the father read the newspaper article, which I had brought with, he explained that “the boys” had not been watching the grain on that evening, as the newspaper reported, but that they were on a illegal pig hunt. He asked me not to publish this in the Kabardino-Balkaria. He is gamekeeper, and “the people”  would then say that the son of the gamekeeper is a poacher. Gaming, particularly wild pig, of which there are many, is widespread. The meat is sold to Russians, but sometimes they also eat it; however, the locals do not like to speak about this because of the Islamic ban on this meat.

The number of steps of the Almasty that Bolov heard, he guessed to be “about 20”. He stressed that he believed he was approaching a human. When he was asked about the appearance of the being, he couldn’t name any specific anatomical details and described the being as just “very big, strong, dark and hairy”; he couldn’t see any details of the face because it was dark. When Salim was asked about the scream and “crying”, he said that the scream was “not like that of a human or animal”. He couldn’t describe the “crying” that followed any better. He answered “no”  to my question if the sound was like human crying, and he said there was “something like crying”  to be heard. I asked if he could repeat the scream and the crying. He said he couldn’t. He was also not willing to attempt an imitation. His minimal distance to the creature was, according to his words, about 5-6 meters.

All in all, Bolov’s story seems believable to me. The existence and observation of the Almasty itself did not appear to be unusual to the father and son, although they couldn’t name any other concrete observations of the Almasty. The only notable thing for them, it seems, was the large shock of the sudden appearance of the being close to them, as well as the fear that came from the unexpected appearance. The father stressed that he knows his son as fearless, and he had never seen him as afraid as he had after this meeting. Salim could barely sleep in the following night because of his fear. The place of this described meeting lies in a hilly landscape with meadows, fields, and forests where the foothills of the main Caucasus chain runs through. According to Zuper Bolov the area of the observation is about 6 km South of the village (Gazeta Juga mentioned 8-10 km), and can only be reached by foot. My experience, however, shows that distances named by the locals are often very imprecise.

In answer to my question how the encounter landed in the newspaper, the father explained that one of his relatives who lives in neighborhood of the village, has contact to editorial staff of a newspaper in Nalchik, and reported that encounter there. Zuper Bolov said that despite the newspaper story almost no one in the village has expressed interest in the story. He did not know of any similar observations in the past years. He only knew that “the old people say that earlier there were lots of Almasty". The complete conversation lasted about 40 minutes. It couldn’t be continued any longer, because my Balkarian driver pressured us to wrap it up, in order to reach Nalchik before it got dark.

Hans-M. Beyer, December 2004

*  Guzejnov, Oleg. 2003. In Psygansu, one remembers the "Snowman" again.
  Gazeta Juga (Newspaper of the South), 34 (495), August 21  (in Russian).
**
 Newspaper report about Almasty sighting

Bolov

 

 

 

 






Salim Bolov (Psygansu village, October 2004)

 

.

May 4, 2005

On Nikolaj Avdeev’s expeditions in Western Siberia

In July 1987, Komsomol’skaja Pravda published a request for their readers throughout the Soviet Union. The readers were asked to share what they knew about the “relic hominoids” in their area.[1]  In December 1987, Jaroslav Golovanov [2] informed readers in Komsomol’skaja Pravda about the results of this request: the editorial board received more than 2000 letters from many regions of the country. It was reported that as a result of this information, the first expedition had already taken place. It occurred from September through October 1987, “under the direction of the Cheljabinsk biologist Nikolaj Avdeev, in one of the more promising areas of West Siberia” [3], in which Maya Bykova had her well-known encounter with a wild-man Mecheny in August of the same year. Dmitri Bayanov mentioned this expedition in 1988 in Bigfoot Co-op.[4] The following is the abridged translation of Avdeev’s report, which was published in Komsomol’skaja Pravda.

“On the eighth day of our river journey, during the night by the fire on the bank, our attention was caught by twigs breaking. When we looked in this direction, we noticed two glowing animal eyes, about two meters off the ground, which eliminated the possibility that they were the eyes of a bear, or some other kind of animal - unless it was sitting in a tree, which was highly unlikely. After Sergej Shishkov tried to approach the being twice, the being retreated back into the woods. When Sergej turned on his electric flashlight, he could determine that a large dark mass was retreating into the darkness. A little while later the owner of the glowing eyes returned for the third time […] and moved around the fire but never got closer […]. We never even thought once about shooting. It was an unbelievable feeling, which is hard to describe. At any rate, it was no paralyzing fear. As said, the silence stayed for too long, and I […] whistled. A return whistle came at once, as if he had been waiting for my signal. I whistled twice. And I was answered exactly so. I liked this game - I whistled three times, and the answer was three whistles. There is no chance that it was an echo, simply because of the time difference of the answer. Furthermore, the answer whistle was so penetrating uncomfortable, that it sent shivers down my spine. A bit later we heard that the whistler was returning to the forest.

Was a local playing tricks on us? This was completely impossible. First of all, no one knew our route. Secondly, these areas are so wild that they can only be reached by water […]. Furthermore, we would have noticed if a boat was following us. Finally, that morning we discovered lots of tracks around our camp. We photographed one print, which was particularly good to see because of the soft ground, and placed a matchbox next to it for comparison (see photo).
[5]  This was not a track from a bear. The prints of the toes can be seen clearly. The track is similar to other known tracks of relic hominoids. Not far from this track we found something, which could have been a camp of the being, but who was scared off by us […]. It’s clear that we scared him with our voices and the glow of the fire. […] We were able to collect witnesses, who said that deeper in the Taiga there are places which are known to be the habitat of the ‘forest people’. These are far away from the areas visited by us. These areas (we have the exact routes and addresses - J. G.) are impossible to be reached through the forests, only by the river, and only during the high water - in spring and the beginning of summer.” [3]

Komsomol’skaja Pravda announced an additional “small mobile expedition in one of the perspective-rich areas” for 1988.[3]  In 1988, Avdeev’s field work should be supported with personnel and the necessary equipment. In August 1988 Maya Bykova had her second encounter with ‘Mecheny’ in West Siberia. Readers of Komsomol’skaja Pravda also offered financial help and a bank account which one could send donations was published. Jaroslav Golovanov: “As you can imagine, the ‘Club of the Curious’ has more exact geographic data, but we consciously do not report about it because we are afraid unprepared [people] [...] will organize their own search and hinder the general work.” [3]   ‘Club of the Curious’ is a column in Komsomol’skaja Pravda, in which articles about the Snowperson riddle are published.

In Summer 1989, S. Smirnov reported in Komsomol’skaja Pravda that Avdeev’s expedition group was able to find a cave and tracks of the “forest people” in the Polar Urals. Plaster casts were made. Avdeev planned the next expedition again for the south of the Tjumen province, in West Siberia, where he had the encounter that was explained above. In this area there are supposedly many claims of meeting with the “Snowman”. Smirnov describes such a meeting: Teenagers got lost in the forest and spent the night at the camp fire. Suddenly a large hairy being approached them. One of the youths reached for his weapon, but the creature gave him a sign to show that he shouldn’t. The being sat at the fire until morning, and then disappeared. It was not reported when this happened. This article also contained an addition from the editors: a call out for sponsors to support the expeditions. [6]

Immediately before the start of his next expedition in the Tjumen province in 1989, Avdeev gave in Komsomol’skaja Pravda a short interview. He said, among other things, that the locals in the expedition area fully believe in the existence of the “forest gentlemen”. In areas far removed from one another, there are eye witness reports and even villages in which the “forest man” shows himself during the day. His expedition consisted of six members - teachers and engineers. A sponsor was found for future expeditions: URAL, one of the large Russian car manufacturers. The general director Juri Goroshaninov is quoted: “I have followed the publications about the search for the “Snowman” with great interest. We want to help the expedition members solve this riddle of nature. […] “ [7]

The 1989 expedition worked in the Polar-Urals. Expedition members “...saw ‘him’ at the end of September: very tall, hairy, with defined, strong muscles.” Avdeev found, together with the expedition members Sergej Shishkov and Fedor Zhizhelev a track and followed it 12 miles until they lost it in the swamps. It was further reported that Sergej Permjakov, a police sergeant, approached the editors of the local newspaper Cheljabinskij Rabotchij (‘Cheljabinsk Worker’). He claimed to have found tracks of a large, bare foot about 30 centimeters long. He made plaster casts of the tracks. [8]

Later, various Russian media reported that in 1990 Avdeev was able to photograph the “Snowman”. This expedition lasted, according to Komsomol’skaja Pravda, the entire summer and a part of the fall. They worked in the mountainous area of the province Cheljabinsk (southwest Ural). Avdeev and Shishkov claim to have seen “...a manlike hairy being almost three meters tall.” there. Avdeev observed a hairy being, which came from a pile of asps. According to him, he was able to photograph it. The Soviet Central-TV reported in 1990 in the program Vremja (‘Time’) about this case and also showed the photo. In October of  the  same  year,  it  was published in Komsomol’skaja Pravda.  This black-and-white print (9 x 13 cm) shows a light figure similar to humans behind bare asps. One can differentiate a possible upper body and head. Details of the head or extremities are not able to be recognized. The area of the lower body is covered by asps. [9]


[1]   Golovanov, Jaroslav (1987) ’On search for the Relic Hominoid’, Komsomol’skaja Pravda, July 9, p. 4 (in Russian).
       For more information on that request see: ‘Wildmen’ in the Russian-Kazakh Altai and Sayan.
[2]   Jaroslav Golovanov, a journalist and scientific reporter of Komsomol’skaja Pravda known throughout the Soviet Union,
       was one of the supporters of Snowman research and made numerous publications in Komsomol’skaja Pravda possible.
       He passed away in 2003.
[3]   Golovanov, Jaroslav (1987) ’After the Snowman! The first self organized ‘KP’ expedition of the program ‘Relic hominoid’
       returned from exploration’, Komsomol’skaja Pravda, December 31, p. 4 (In Russian).
[4]   Dmitri Bayanov in June 1988 in Bigfoot Co-op, republished in Bayanov, D. (1996) In the footsteps of the Russian Snowman.
       Moscow: Crypto-Logos, pp. 138-139.
[5]   This photo was published together with Avdeev’s report.
[6]   Smirnov, S. (1989) ’I’ve seen him myself!’, Komsomol'skaja Pravda, July 26 (in Russian).
[7]   Abieva, G.; Smirnov, S. (1989) ’A sponsor for the Snowman’, Komsomol’skaja Pravda, August 18 (in Russian).
[8]   Smirnov, S. (1989) ‘A sergeant followed the tracks of the Snowman, which lives in the area around Cheljabinsk’,
       Komsomol’skaja Pravda
, November 30 (in Russian).
[9]   Smirnov, S. (1990) ’The hominoid comes as if called’, Komsomol’skaja Pravda, October 27 (in Russian).





April 19, 2005

"Wildmen" in the Russian-Kazakh Altai and Sayan

In September 2003 the Russian newspaper Komsomol’skaja Pravda reported about the discovery of the leg of a large mammal by a group of alpinists under the headline “The Leg of a Snowman excavated on a Altai glacier?” The color photo of this leg published in the newspaper shows an easily recognizable foot sole and claws, says that it is probably a bear, but in no way could it be a hominoid or pongid. The newspaper article closes with a short commentary by Igor Burtsev, Moscow, as well as the announcement of an interview with Dmitri Bayanov. Additionally, the article stated: “…’Messages about Snowmen frequently come from the mountain Altai. Expeditions searching for the Yetis were organized in Altai in the 80’s. They all ended without a result; despite this there were more than a few witnesses among the locals. It happened, that people met with him together’ -- explained the director of the faculty for physical geography at the State Mountain-Altai University, Professor Alexander Marinin.” According to Marinin, there have been such encounters in the Altai-districts Ulagansk, Ongudaj and Kosh-Agach. [1]

Dr. Michael Trachtenherz, one of the vice presidents of the Moscow Russian Society of Cryptozoologists (RSC), published the Komsomol’skaja Pravda article in his website, along with some of Igor Burtsev’s commentaries about the find. Further mentions of the Snowman in Altai are not included.[2] Even though this discovery is clearly not that of a primate, it caused an unusually large media response in the Russian Federation and led to numerous headlines like Yeti found in Altai !. In fall 2004 Russian media informed readers of a planned "Snowman" expedition in the Altai. It will be arranged by the Russian organization Kosmopoisk with participants of the scientists from the Siberian department of the Russian Academy of Science.

The reason it was thought that this discovery could be the leg of a "Snowman" was because of the many reports (past and present) of encounters with hairy beings, similar to humans, from the Altai mountains. Together with the Sayan mountains on the eastern border of the republic Gorno-Altaisk and in the republics Khakassia and Tuva, the Altai, along with the Caucasus and the Pamirs, was considered one of the “classic” areas for such encounters in the South of the earlier Soviet Union. The area has been visited by numerous expedition groups and single researchers, including such known field researchers like Vadim Makarov, former president of the RSC and other participants of the Moscow Smolin-Seminar. Another known personality of the Russian "Snowman" research worked in the Tuva republic: the St. Petersburg zoologist Rostislav Danov. His field work began in the 60’s in Marie-Jeanne Koffmann’s team in the Caucasus. Later he worked independently from her in the Pamirs and other areas.[3] The zoologist Professor Alexander Mashkovtsev, member of the former Snowman Commission at the Soviet Academy of Science, investigated Sayan caves in the 1930’s and found the bones of a subspecies of a reindeer, which could have descended from a domesticated reindeer, according to the opinion of some scientists. [4]

Wild people are an element of the folklore of the Altai and Sayan inhabitants. Stories which don’t fit the characteristic folklore tradition are also circulating today. In the Russian-Kazahk Altai the names “Almys” and “Albys” for the being has spread, similarly “Albasty” and “Alvasti” is used by Altaians and Tuvinians.[5] Legends from the locals say that in the past a long lasting struggle between the Almys and humans took place, and the result was the withdrawal of the Almys.[6] These legends are similar to those which exist in the former Soviet Central Asia, the Caucasus and Persia.

Pavel Marikovskij mentiones in one of his books the story of the Kazakh A. Mogilev. According to him an unusual wild men, covered with fur, was captured by forest workers on the southern border of Altai province in the 1830's. He was brought into a village, prisoned for one day, but in the evening he was freed.[7] Volume 3 of the Information Materials of the Commission for the Study of the Snowman question from 1959 contains the letter of a certain J. Zikunov in the section Altai and Sayan Mountains, which he wrote to the editors of Snamia Kommunisma, a local newspaper in Ust-Kamenogorsk city on the foothills of the Kazakh Altai. The newspaper had published a talk with Boris Porshnev about the existence of the 'Snowman'. Zikunov shares that his grandfather had told his wife that he himself had participated in catching a wild human in the Kazakh Altai in the 19th century. At that time, the residents would sometimes set out meat and bread near this Altai settlement. Tracks showed that “a wild human” collected the food. A teacher from the same settlement apparently ran into children of the wild humans in a cave while he was hunting. When the parents returned, they attacked the teacher. He shot, at which they shrunk back.[8] The Kazakhstan newspaper Express K published in 2003 a short talk with a local researcher in Ust-Kamenogorsk province who is interested in 'Snowman' since 30 years. He said he uses lures and found footprints in Gornoj Ul'binki district. [9]

Volume 3 of the Information Materials also contains a letter from the Estonian J. Nerman to the Snowman Commission from the year 1959. Nerman, who stayed in the 30’s in the current city Abakan (Khakassia) in northern West Sayan, questioned the locals about the behaviors in the mountains and learned that wild humans were there and these people were dangerous. He also learned about the catch of one of these humans, who had been caught in the mountains two weeks before his arrival. He was put in a metal cage in Abakan one week as a show. This happened in 1938 or 1939. Nerman could never find out where the wild human was brought after that. He also mentions his report to Alexander Mashkovtsev about the catch of a wild human in the Mongolian Altai. [8]

Boris Porshnev writes in his monograph The present state in the question of the problem of relic hominids: “On the basis of this report, one can guess that the Altai mountains 100 years ago not only counted to the migration centers, but also to the reproductive centers of the Snowman, because observations of juveniles and pairs are mentioned. There are also clues that lead one to think that this reproduction area of the Snowman included the ridge of the Abakan until recently. […] In August 1962, a tourist group discovered excrement on the ice on the southern face of the Belukha (Katun glacier) […] at a height of 2500 m. This was spread about over an area of 2 qkm. It was shaped similar to human waste, but this consisted, to a large part, of undigested or half-digested grass. It is impossible that the waste belonged to a wolf, and similarly not from bears, snow leopards, or deer. Who were they from? (The samples were brought to Moscow ).”

Porshnev received letters from the forester Alexandra Poletajeva. She shared that in 1952 she had seen tracks, unknown to her, on the ridge of the Sayan mountains. The tracks were sunk into the snow and were practically a round form, 25 cm long and without claw prints. The animals apparently moved on two legs. These were not bear tracks, which she knew well. She followed the tracks about a kilometer and discovered when she returned that the being had followed her. She hurried back to camp and told the Tuvinian hunters about this situation. They advised her not to go to that place and said, “That are our ancestors; don’t go there otherwise they will carry you away.” Porshnev arrives at the conclusion: “The natural situation in the mountains of Altai and Sayan lead one to believe that in the past this was one of the most important centers of the Snowman’s existence.” [10]

At the Moscow "hominologists" initiative, in 1987 a "round table” about "relic hominoids" was organized. A coworker of Komsomol’skaja Pravda participated: the well-known Russian journalist Jaroslav Golovanov, author of numerous publications about the "Snowman" in the USSR. The newspaper dedicated an entire page with the title “Searching for the Relic Hominoid” to the meeting. The publication contained short statements about the problem from the following participants: Sergej Klumov, V. Chernyshev, Dmitri Bayanov, Marie-Jeanne Koffmann, Vadim Makarov and Michael Trachtenherz. Readers that knew something about the problem were invited to share this with the Moscow editors. The residents of removed, poorly accessible areas were particularly encouraged to write in, as well as the border guards of the north and south country borders. It was announced that the most interesting letters from readers would be published. Komsomol’skaja Pravda was one of the most popular newspapers in the Soviet Union. The statements with the call for submission appeared country wide.[11] In 2003, this page of Komsomol’skaja Pravda was also published in Michael Trachtenherz website, but not the reaction to it (on stand of March 2005). [2]

A half a year after the summons, Jaroslav Golovanov informed in Komsomol’skaja Pravda about the reactions under the headline “After the Snowman! The first self organized ‘KP’ expedition of the program ‘Relic hominoid’ returned from the exploration: [...] The editors received more than 2000 letters. The result of an analysis of this letters and a comparison of its dates and those which have been collected in the Darwin Museum Moscow in the Seminar of the Question of the Relic Hominoid […] we have determined, that today there are some areas rich in potential, in which we can expect to meet with these interesting beings. This applies to: the mountainous region of the Altai, small, sparsely populated (relatively speaking) local islands in the foothills of the Caucasus, and the wide space of the fields north of the 60th latitude, which borders on the Urals in the west and east.”  What’s remarkable is that in this connection, the Pamirs were not mentioned. [12]

One piece of information about the wild men in Altai from the first half of the 20th century comes from the Czech Rudolf Luskač. He has worked as a forest engineer in the Soviet Union since 1927. In this job, he traveled all around the entire country, visited the Russian North, Soviet middle Asia, the Urals, west and east Siberia, and therefore came to areas that have been rarely visited by foreigners. After the second world war he worked in the Czech ministry for Land and Forestry. He has published numerous books about his travels in the Soviet Union, which have appeared in Prague since 1948. Luskač was friends with the substitute director of the petrographical Institute of the Soviet Academy of Science, Dr. Alexej Zvetov. In 1935 Dr. Zvetov invited Luskač to an petrographical expedition in the southern East Siberia. There, about 50 miles south of the city Tynda in the Amur province, Luskač had an evening encounter with a being, which the locals consider a "Golub-Javan" (one of the local names for the wild men). Luskač began to be interested in the wild people and spoke to Dr. Zvetov about this. He knew of such legends and explained that he had first heard of the "Golub-Javan" in 1932, in the foothills of the Pamirs, but he took these stories of the natives to be part of the local fairy tales.

In 1933, Dr. Zvetov led petrographical research work in the Belukha massive of the Altai. Luskač quotes him as follows: “On our way back, some of the local guides refused to spent the night in a rugged gorge […] because in the fall the Golub-Javans migrate through this canyon. It’s not advised to meet them. They told me, that these beings live in small groups and in the winter come down from the inaccessible high mountains to the less elevated areas. Encounters with them are dangerous.” Zvetov expressed his doubts. Regarding this, the medic of the group assured that he himself had seen such beings in the Altai and told the following story: He was spending the night in a mountain hut and was awoken by high screams. Through the window he saw some forms similar to humans in the moonlight who were eating the results of his hunt, two snow sheeps. In the first moment, he thought they were bears. Then he took in the long arms, the practically upright walk and thick, gray-brown fur. The faces were hairless, and the head came to a point, with long, stiff hair that fell to the shoulders. They were all larger than humans, and held their heads with thick browns and large eyes upright. It seemed they had an argue and let out sharp screams. Even female specimens with long breasts could be recognized. The beings attempted to look into the hut through the window. One particularly large specimen tried to break down the door of the hut. When the group left, they proved to be good climbers. Since then, the medic avoids this mountainous area. According to Luskač, Dr. Zvetov stressed, that the medic and the other local guides were experienced, serious men, and therefore he does not doubt the believability of the story. [13]

Heinrich Silanov, a Russian geologist and participant of "Snowman" expeditions in the Soviet Union, describes in one of his publications a personal experience, which reminds the story of Albert Ostman. Ostman claimed that in 1924 in British Columbia he was kidnapped by a Sasquatch as he lay in his sleeping bag. Silanov worked in 1959 with a group of geologists in the Sayan and reports: “In August 1959 we were doing geological work in the valley of the river Bol’shoj Abakan [northern West Sayan]. We were traveling by horse. […] One day, toward evening, we arrived in a region where the Taiga ends and where are the alpine meadows. We rested on a large meadow, which was completely grown over with tall grass, unsaddled the horses and began to prepare to spend the night here. The married couple Donov settled down in the tent and we pitched an awning for ourselves. […] We fell asleep quickly; the day had exhausted us. A long scream woke me up, which came from somewhere near the Taiga. […] And suddenly, another scream. I discovered that Sasha Pjankov was no longer with us. […] We turned on a flashlight and saw the following: a wide track of flattened grass led from the tent into the darkness. In the same moment, I heard a scream coming from the direction in which the track led. We hurried to be of help, and quickly saw in the light of the flashlight Sasha, who was practically lying in the water in his twisted sleeping bag.

Based on his shocked face, we could see that he had not come here voluntarily. N. Donov approached us quickly with a flare gun. With a light hiss one racket after another flew into the air and illuminated a giant animal, which was struggling up the slope in the direction of the Taiga […]. Since the grass was tall, we couldn’t determine his height, but there is no doubt that he was taller than two meters: thick fur, a large head which was grown out of the body. The animal crossed the steep slope unusually agilely and disappeared into the Taiga. Sasha returned to his senses and told as he woke up, because someone was carrying him away in his sleeping bag. He thought that it was a trick of ours and thought: ‘They’ll have their fun and then stop. But then I realized that it was someone else, because to drag a sleeping bag with me in it, one had to be very strong. I began to call for help. The bag was dropped, but after a short time, I was carried further, this time over stones.’ Sasha screamed again, and then we came to help. […] We didn’t know anything of the “Snowman” at that time, and therefore thought it was a large wolverine. […] In the morning we saw in the shallow water the large tracks of the sole of bare feet, which were not very similar to animal tracks.” [14]

Rudolf Balandin published in 1996 the story of Lev Miroslav Cevalkov, employee of the Altai-Mountains Area Museum. According to Balandin, Cevalkov did not believe in the existence of "Snowman" until “a good and old acquaintance”, a history teacher from the Altai, told him of his encounter in the Ongudaj district. Balandin quotes Cevalkov as follows: “In summer he helped his father herd the horses out of the higher mountains meadows. They returned home together with their colleagues and horses. It was around evening time. In front of them they noticed a woman. It appeared to him as if she was wearing a fur coat backwards. They caught up to her. The horses began to whinny. She didn’t answer any questions and did not turn around. The group began to feel uneasy. ‘Let’s ride’ said one. ‘It’s not necessary for us to go up to her.’ At this moment, she turned around. The face was hairy, flat, and without nose. Two large eyes looked as if they were lit up. The mouth was thin and wide like an ape. An awful smell came off her. A true Almystka! [feminin form of 'Almys'] The mounted their horses and rode away. It was awful. Afterwards she was seen around the village Kupchegen. It’s not known where she disappeared to. […] My acquaintance rode up quite close to her. He noticed than even though he was sitting on his horse, her face was at the same level as his eyes. That means she was more than two meters tall. […]” It is not mentioned when this encounter happened. [15]

One of the "Snowman" expeditions in the Russian Altai took place from June through September 1996. One of its participants, the psychologist Sergej Shishov, published in connection with this an unusually (for Russian periodicals) exhaustive report in the journal Znag Voprosa. This contains excerpts from the expedition diary. According to Shishov, a Russian border guard observed from a helicopter in 1995 in the Altai three hairy beings similar to humans. As a result of this observation, it led to an expedition, apparently at the initiative of the Russian Defense Ministry. An unnamed zoologist participated in this expedition, who allegedly worked earlier with Boris Porshnev, according to Shishov. The expedition was supported by Russian border troops. It is claimed the participants were able to observe, photograph, and even mark tracks of an anthropoid being. The following is a translation of some significant parts of Shishov’s report:

“…The locals, Oriots, Kumandins, Tubalars and Telengits know of its existence since prehistoric times. They call the hominid “hairy uncle” and “grandfather”. They often borrowed the names from other people: Gul’-Bijaban, Albasty, Arsuri, Kadshi… They were deathly afraid of him and attributed capabilities to him that also appear in folklore about the Yeti of the Himalayas . Of course, in most of the legends the details are mythological.

In 1995, the helicopter pilots of a border patrol saw, during a round trip in the mountains of the border area, on a snowcap […] three hairy beings similar to humans, which climbed the icy ridge as easily as a man walks down a boulevard. The helicopter approached the group of anthropoids. At this moment, something happened which borders on the edge of human understanding. The ape-like humans simultaneously squatted down, stretched their paws in the direction of the helicopter… and disappeared from the sight of the observers. One must keep in mind two important facts: The military, who reported about the event, were really professional and had been working in the high Katun […] for more than one year, and they had often gone on these flights 'blind'. They orientated themselves in the chaos intuitively on valleys, low valleys, and the crest of high mountains. And secondly: at the moment of the strange gymnastic exercises of the arthropoids, the pilot felt a sharp pain in his temples and a burning in his eyes. His eyes started to water. Nothing like this had ever happened before to the officer. It was not possible to land on the snow cap, because it was covered in a thick crust of ice - incidentally, no tracks could be left behind on the ice. There were also no caves, cracks, or caverns where the three puzzling beings could have hidden themselves.

One of the pilots also had the same impression as R. Izzard - the author of the first systematic history of the Yeti: ‘On our snowcaps, you can see any fleck just LIKE COCKROACHES ON A TABLECLOTH [emphasis added by S. Shishov], but these… they simply disappeared from our sight. …’ By this time, it was already in the middle of glasnost, and therefore the officers reported this experience to their superiors, and it also came to be known that such cases had happened more than once and not just with the group of the air patrol, but also to observers on the ground. But these observations had not have any further consequences. […] But this time, the report interested someone from the border troop’s district headquarters. It was forwarded on to the defense ministry and as a result, an expedition with the goal of checking the information was formed. All the details about this were done in the form of a diary - as an example of a report for the interested officers. And of course, we only wrote the events in the diary which we thought the reader would find interesting.

Pages from the diary: […]
June 8, 1996 […] The named military organization made sure that we could stay with the border guards for more than a week and waited for instructions from the bosses higher up. On June 8 a helicopter brought us into base camp, which was located in the assumed epicenter of the relic hominoid’s habitat. It was easy to choose where we would stay: we read the reports of the border patrol and determined that the valley - to be more precise, a canyon with unbelievably steep sides - was about the same distance from all of the encounters that happened. There were six people in the group: a doctor, two sensitives, a professional zoologist who had worked with Porshnev, and the leader of the expedition. Additionally there was an officer from a local border patrol who knew how to use a special camera, and an old man - an Oirot - whose father had been killed by a relic hominoid. […]

It’s one thing to sit in an apartment in Moscow, drink ‘Bavaria’ from a covered glass and hear reports about the unusual events that happen on other continents. But you feel completely different when you are in some sort of yurt [tent] and look into the eyes of an old Oirot, who is telling you how the forest uncle ripped the head off his father: ‘First he penetrated him with his eyes, and father let his weapon drop. Then he approached my father, kicked him in the chest and ripped his head off. I found the head without hair. The wolves had eaten the rest. I don’t need money, I’d help you just because.’ […] He himself had seen the relic hominoid twice. The Oirot’s description was similar to the classic one, down to the details: ‘I couldn’t see the uncle, but my heart was already hurting and my legs had failed. I was very afraid. Then, look there, a hairy man came down the mountain. He looked at me, but he didn’t touch me. After that I spent two days in bed - I was dizzy.’ […]

July 2 […] Today the report came by radio that in the upper Kal-Chut border patrols had seen a group of anthropoids, moving over the snowcaps toward the Mongolian border. Kal-Chut - that’s about a hundred kilometers east of our camp. I personally was convinced that it was another group of hominoids, even though there are a variety of them. The anthropoid is a wanderer, an eternal nomad. Going through the deserted crests of the Altai, he can walk with his stride of 1.2 meters about 50-70 werst [30-40 miles] a day. And even more than that, since country borders don’t exist for our older brother. One also has the impression, that in this area only the border patrols on the Russian side are working. […]

July 12: Today we could once again see the ‘Gentlemen of the area’. […] Once our eyes had adjusted to the new light, the zoologist called out and pointed forward. Five hundred meters from us, on the edge of the numerous clefts, an unmistakable anthropoid being was easily climbing on a cliff. From the distance, you couldn’t make out any details, but it was not a bear – the only animals which one could mistake for a relic hominoid from a distance. The length of the body and the lower extremities were proportional. The fur was dark. The upper extremities moved strongly and helped him climb. […] After a few seconds the hominoid disappeared into the dark shadows of a stone crack, which led to the outflows of the foothills. […] It was impossible to think of following it. […] That evening the high lieutenant, who had successfully taken a picture, demonstrated the picture-taking ability of his military technology. On the print, one can see stones, cracks that are covered with green lichens, and the contours of a powerful figure moving himself forward, covered by the shadows of the boulders. The detail of the camera is amazing, but the information content is small, because you can’t identify the pictured silhouette. […]
August 2. […] To the sounds of the heavy storm, the zoologist told me something about his work with Porshnev. […] It shows that at the end of his life, Porshnev dreamed of organizing a scientific expedition into the area of the Altai and to Burjatia, including the territory of northern Mongolia . But the circumstances were such, that particularly in his last years Porshnev was not able to make this expedition. […] ”

According to Shishov, the expedition was also able to find a trail of tracks with clear footprints. The length of the tracks was 62 centimeters, the width 23.5 cm. The large toe was very wide and not opposite of the others. The ball of the foot was pressed into the ground 3.5 cm, and the heel was particularly defined. All prints were measured and photographed. A plastic cast was made from one of the prints. The zoologist present estimated the height of the animals to be 2.4-2.6 meters and his weight to be no less than 300 kilograms. The exact location of the base camp of the expedition is not shared by Shishov. From his statement “Kal-Chut - that’s about 100 km east of our camp” - he probably means 'Kalgut' - one can assume that the camp was in or around the edge of the Belukha massive.[16]

The name Altai comes from the Mongolian and means ‘golden’, which could refer to the available gold reserves, which are still industrially mined today. The highest Altai peak, Belukha, reaches a height of 4499 meters. There is a difference between the Altai in the Russian and Kazakhstan territory, as well as the Mongolian Altai, the Gobi Altai and a smaller part in China. The mountains create the spring area of the Siberian rivers Ob, Yenisej, and Irtysh. The eastern neighbouring republics of Gorno-Altaisk Republic are Tuva and Khakassia. Some Altai territories like for example the area between Chulyshmanskoe Nagor’e and Shapshal’skij mountain range (the border area of Tuva) are even today only allowed to be entered with special permission. Parts of the Russian-Kazakh and Mongolian Altai are contaminated with radio activity because of the former Soviet nuclear testing grounds Semipalatinsk in north Kazakhstan. The economic infrastructure that existed in the Soviet time is for the most part no longer there today. Distant settlements, that were earlier regularly visited by helicopters, are now almost completely isolated. The male population, in particular, in these settlements has a very high rate of alcoholism.
In comparison with the Caucasus and the Pamirs there is very little known of the results of the Altai fieldwork in the 20th century in the West and the collection of information has only just begun here. If these results were ever published in the West it would show that the Altai is no less important than the Pamirs and the Caucasus - maybe even more important.

Translations from the Russian by T. Maksimova.


[1] Kuzina, Svetlana; Pritupova, Elena (2003) The Leg of a Snowman excavated on a Altai glacier? September 25,
    Komsol´skaja Pravda, Barnaul edition (in Russian).
[2] www.alamas.ru (on stand in March 2005).
[3] After Danov’s death Dr. Michael Trachtenherz published Danov’s article 'About the Discovery of the tooth of an
     unknown Primate
' in his website www.alamas.ru. This tooth was found in 1971 by an expedition group from
     St. Petersburg in Dr. Maire-Jeanne Koffmann’s immediate fieldwork area in a cave near the village
     Kich-Malka in Kabardino-Balkaria.
[4] Fil’, V. (2004) Two words on ‘cryptozoologists’, Eshednevnye Kamchatskie Novosti, May14 (in Russian).
[5] Tokarev, S., red. (1997) Myths of the people of the world, vol. 1, p. 58, Moscow: Bolshaja Rossijsakja Enziklopedja (in Russian).
[6] Morozova, Elena (2003) Who needs him anyway, this Yeti?, Rossijskaja Gazeta, December 27 (in Russian).
[7] Marikovskij, Pavel (1992) The tragedy of the Wild ("Snow") men, Alma-Ata: KO Paritet (in Russian).
[8] Information Materials of the Commission for the Study of the "Snowman" question, (Redaction B. Porshnev
     and A. Shmakov), vol. 3, 1959, pp. 92-95, Moscow (in Russian).
[9] Kratenko, Andrej (2003) My loving snow animal.Yeti in the surroundings of Ust-Kamenogorsk? Express K, April 15 (in Russian).
[10] Porshnev, Boris (1963) The present state in the question of the problem of relic hominids, Moscow: VINITI (in Russian).
[11] Golovanov, Jaroslav (1987) On search for the Relic Hominoid, Komsomol’skaja Pavda, July 9, p. 4 (in Russian).
[12] Golovanov, Jaroslav (1987) After the Snowman! The first self organized ‘KP’ expedition of the program ’Relic hominoid’
       returned from the exploration´, Komsomol’skaja Pravda, December 31, p. 4 (in Russian).
[13] Luskač, Rudolf (1966) In the veil of green silence, Prague: Svet Sovetu (in Czech).
[14] Silanov, Heinrich et al. (1990) NLO in Voronesh, Voronesh (in Russian).
[15] Balandin, Rudolf (1996 ) The Altai humanoid, Chudesa i Prikljuchenja, 1, 38-39 (in Russian).
[16] Shishov, Sergej (1998) Our mysterious, older brother, Znak Voprosa, 4, 94-117 (in Russian).





November 12, 2010

New Investigations in the north-central Caucasus.  A report on selected results from the 2009 fieldwork season.


Just as in the previous years, in 2009, investigations into a suspected population of a recent species of non-sapiens hominids was conducted in the republics Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia in the Northern Caucasus, Russian Federation. These supposed non-sapiens hominids will be described as “Almasty” in the following report – using the Kabardinian terminology. In 2009, these field works were conducted for three months (July through September).  Potential new eyewitnesses were found - including some locals who claims to have seen almasty in 2009.
It was possible to find traces which could have come from almasty. In the fieldwork conducted since the 1990s, it has been possible to determine new areas which are visited from time to time by these hominids.  Infrared videotraps were installed in some of these areas.  As of yet, however, these have only filmed wild animals. It was possible to find some new informants: locals, who are willing to collect information on the subject in the future.  Specifically in the Zolsk district, Kabardino-Balkaria, new information about the Soviet-Russian field work since the early 1960s  were documented. A main problem of the field work could generally be considered resolved: the communication of the team members among themselves and that with the locals.  Today, the majority of the native population has a mobile phone.  The mobile phone networks also work, to some extent, in the mountainous region, sometimes even in places far from the villages.  Therefore, the flow of information about the subject has increased.

Compared with the 1990s, some of the field work conditions have improved.  The economic situation in both republics has stabilized on a low level.  However, the republics of the Northern Caucasus are still those with the lowest income level within the Russian Federation.  Unemployment is high and there is a relatively high level of crime. It can be determined that in the past ten years, there has been a strong increase in western influences on the younger generation of locals: consumer goods, new media, and a strong drive for the western lifestyle.  This has also led to another slow retreat of the influence of the local traditions on this generation.  The taboo connected to the subject is part of this tradition.  Because of the new influences, the younger generation now feels less bound to the taboo, compared to 15 or 20 years ago.  However, the taboo is still the main barrier to collecting informations.

It has been determined that there is a slow increase in the number of privately owned cattle, the main anthropogenic factor in the mountains of fieldwork region.  Some of the summer farms, which had been abandoned for years, are now being used again.  The total number of cattle, however, is still a small percentage of the number from the Soviet time.  [1] There has been a slow, continuous build up of the existing infrastructure.  For example, a new road for tourists is being built from the spa resort Kislovodsk, Stavropol region, to Dzhilysu, a settlement on the foot of Mt. Elbrusin Kabardino-Balkaria. In the past it was only a narrow dirt road in poor condition. This street crosses the Khazaut valley and runs up to the upper edge of the Malka valley. Increasingly anthropogenious influence on a part of the southern Zolsk district can be expected in the near future.
 One can note an uncoordinated building boom of hotels, restaurants, and more in the tourist areas in the mountains.  However, these areas are very small and not representative of the main mountain areas of both republics.  They only include parts of the upper Baksan  and  upper Teberda valley. In the following, a selection of possible eye witness accounts and some other results, collected in 2009, will be presented. The reports were documented on tape or video.  The statments of the locals are published here with the author’s words.

 
 
                                                                             


Safarbi Beshenov, 32 years old, Kabardinian, gamekeeper and cattle hand, Kamenomostskoye, Zolsk district

On February 13, 2007, Safarbi Beshenov was hunting in the upper Malka valley, Zolsk district, Kabardino-Balkaria.  During the night of 13-14 February, he slept in a sleeping bag under a rock overhang in a subvalley of the upper Malka valley: Krishnaja Balka. The moon was bright, and it was a quiet night in winter.  He slept deeply.  At around 3:00 in the morning, he woke up and heard - still half asleep - steps that were coming toward him in the dry grass.  He was not fully awake, but he felt that a large “animal” was coming very close to him.  He felt it’s warm breath in his face.  Beshenov lay in his sleeping bag, which covered him completely except for his face.  He kept his eyes closed and instinctively felt for his knife, which he had with him in the sleeping bag.  His rifle was next to him, outside the sleeping bag.  He heard the steps move away from him in the dry grass, opened his eyes, and saw a large, bulky figure similar to a human, but bigger and wider, leaving on two legs.  At first he thought it was a bear, but then realized that a bear can’t move on two legs like that.  Beshenov is convinced that this could only have been an almasty.  The next morning, he couldn’t find any tracks around his location, and didn’t look any further in the surroundings for other tracks, because there was no snow.

Beshenov was asked about almasty for the first time in summer, 2005.  As an experienced hunter, he knew about the subject, but explained at the time that he had never seen anything like that.  In 2005, he helped the German study group to find a cave in the Malka valley, where bones are said to have been found.  Beshenov seemed to be a direct, serious person.  His Kabardinian hunting buddies describe him as fearless and dependable.

safarbi  
uppermalkav

Gamekeeper Safarbi  Beshenov and a view from the  northern  slope of  Mt. Kenzhal (2829 m) to a part of upper Malka valley with some subvalleys. In one of them, Krishnaja Balka, Beshenov had a night encounter with a possible almasty.

 

Zaur Likhov, 45, Kabardinian, chief gamekeeper, Kamenomostskoye, Zolsk district

At the beginning of September 2007, Zaur Likhov was driving down a dirt road in his jeep in the Khazaut valley in the evening, right at the edge of the tourist station Dolina Narzanov. The station is abandoned since the 1990s. It was already dark, about 10:00 at night.  Suddenly, he saw a large, dark, human like figure in the headlights, which was coming up on the slope, to the left of the road.  Likhov stopped his car.  He realized the being was an almasty, which stood still about 5 to 6 meters away from the car on the left edge of the road.  Shortly thereafter, the almasty crossed the road.  As he was walking, he looked to the car by turning his upper body towards his observer.  On the other side of the street, he climbed up the steep slope, using his arms to help him.  Likhov demonstrated this by making “shoveling” movements with his arms.

By the light of the headlights, Likhov was able to get a good look at the creature.  He described it as the entire body covered with yellow-brown hair.  The hair on its head was long.  It was well over 2 meters tall.  Likhov stressed, that its body was solidly built.  He did not see glowing eyes, but the way the being turned his upper body – when he looked at Likhov’s car – seemed strange to him.  He demonstrated this multiple time, with swinging arms, without being asked.  He described this movement with the words: “… like a wolf !”  His imitation of the movement – turning the upper body with the head in coordination with the steps and swinging of the arms was similar to the movements of the so-called "Patterson Sasquatch".

This film clip has been shown several times in Russian TV.  Likhov said that he didn’t know about it.  A collection of pictures was shown to him: drawings of pre-hominids and "wildmen".  Likhov described the drawing of the frontal view of an almasty head, published by Bayanov and Makarov, as similar – but not the side view of the same head, which had been published together with the frontal view.[2] One of the German group’s informants also reported in August 2009: one of his acquaintances, the Kabardinian M. Shogenzukov from the city of Baksan, on the same night as Likhov’s encounter, was driving along a street above the tourist station Dolina Narzanov on the same slope of the valley – about 200 meters above the station.  He also saw an almasty, which crossed the street in front of his car.  Shogenzukov and Likhov did not know anything about the other’s observation.  Shogenzukov has not yet been questioned about his observation.

At the first attempt to question him, in August 2009, Likhov did not want to talk about his observation.  He was sitting together with a few weekend tourists in front of his hunter’s hut at the tourist station Dolina Narzanov.  Later he said that he didn’t want those people to learn about his observation and laugh at him.  Later, when he was alone, he told about his experience, but he did speak with some reservations. These reservations likely had another reason: about a week before he was questioned, in the evening Likhov was talking with a friend in front of his hut.  They were talking about his encounter.  Likhov said that the next time he saw an almasty, he would shoot at it.  That night, around 2:00 am, the windos's glass had been broken in the room in the hunter’s hut Likhov was sleeping in. It was a double paned window with 10 cm space between the panes.  Both panes broke.  The dogs began to bark.  Likhov woke up and thought that someone had shot at his window.  He took his hunting rifle and went outside with his colleague.  They couldn’t see anything unusual in the dark. The next morning, they looked for a bullet hole or the shells from the shot.  They didn’t find anything.  Outside, in front of the window, they didn’t find any rock, branch, or anything else.  Likhov didn’t tell anyone about this event, except for one of his colleagues.  This colleague said that Likhov saw this event as a “warning” because he had said that he wanted to shoot at the almasty.

likhov2   dolinastreet  
Chief gamekeeper Zaur Likhov during a hunt in the upper Malka valley (left).The part of the dirt road at the abandoned tourist station Dolina Narzanov in Khazaut valley, where Likhov is said to have seen an almasty in front of his jeep in September 2007 (right).

Members of the German study group spent a few days together with Likhov.  After a few hunting expeditions together, he became more open and friendly.  There was a final meeting with him in September 2009 near the village Kichmalka, Zolsk district.  Likhov was met by accident as he was on his way to his home village, on his off road vehicle.  He reacted very positively to this chance meeting.  Without being asked, he told the Germans about his encounter once again.  By this point, he spoke so openly that he said that at the time, he was very afraid, and never wished to repeat  “something like that” in his life ever again. If can often be determined that locals, when around other people – particularly strangers – don’t like to talk about almasty.  Often, they are afraid they will be laughed at by telling such stories.  In many cases, they only talk openly about the subject when they have the feeling that they know the listener well and can trust him.

 

Salavat Makushev, 58 years old, Kabardinian, cattle hand, Sarmakovo, Zolsk district

Every day, Salavat Makushev moves his cattle from his house on the south-west edge of the village of Sarmakovo to the  Khudatojko valley behind his house.  This valley is similar to the neighbouring, forestless meadow valleys Kuruko, Sarmako and Agbochejko.[3] There are some bushes by the brook. Makushev reported that in May 2009, at about 3:00 in the afternoon he saw two human-like beings in the lower part of the valley.  He recognized them as almasty immediately.  They were moving away from him, not rushing, about 100 meters away, not looking around for him.  They disappeared in the bushes at the brook.  They both had light gray, almost white, hair.  The hair on their head was long and went down to their shoulders.  One specimen was about the size of a human adult, the other was nearly a head shorter.  Makushev didn’t think the encounter had any sort of special meaning.  He said that he wasn’t afraid because he knew they were almasty.

In another talk, some weeks later, Makushev said that this wasn’t his first encounter with the almasty. Around 1985 he was working as a milk truck driver for the collective farm of Sarmakovo.  He was driving this car in the evening through the Khudatojko valley, in summer, about 9:00 pm.  It wasn’t completely dark.  Suddenly, an almasty crossed the path a few meters in front of him. He  described the color of the fur as “light.”  He couldn’t tell the exact color.  The next day, he told his colleagues in a herders hut in the same valley.  They didn’t believe him and laughed at him.  The next day, a few of them were riding on the same path back into the village.  Later they told Makushev that they had also seen an almasty at about the same place.  He didn’t have any more details to report. 

Makushev was met coincidentally for the first time in Mid-July, 2009. During the first talk, the topic seemed to make him uncomfortable and he described his encounter briefly, with only a few words.  He declined a photo or video of the visit, as well as a future visit to his house for further talks.  In the following weeks, members of the German study group ran into Makushev multiple times in the Khudatojko valley.  During these spontaneous meetings, longer, more detailed conversations were held, and Makushev became more open.  A particular positive effect was that he and the Germans had some good acquaintances from  Sarmakovo in common.  He described his encounter  from May 2009 several times, and then permitted some photos to be taken of him.  At one of the meetings, a member of the study group told him that he had seen “glowing eyes” in the light of his car the previous night in the neighboring Kuruko valley.  Makushev grinned and asked spontaneously, “red eyes?” It became apparent that that was normal for him and that he associated that with almasty. 

He also said that he had known Marie-Jeanne Koffmann for a long time. She is the main authority of almasty research in the Caucasus. According to him she was frequently underway in the Khudatojko and neighboring valleys – often at night and alone.  He also met her when she was with younger helpers, Russians, when she spent the night in the herders huts in the valley.  All in all, Salavat Makushev appeared to be a simple, honest man, who didn’t put much meaning into the subject.  He completed seven grades at one of the the village schools. Later he worked on the collective farm of Sarmakovo, and currently works as a private cattle hand.

It should be noted that Gregory Panchenko, one of Dr. Marie-Jeanne Koffmann’s close coworkers, also reported on two specimens with light-colored fur in the pasture valleys south of Sarmakovo, the neighboring valleys of Khudatojko:  A large, male individual with silver-gray fur, observed in summer of 1991, and a somewhat smaller individual with “light fur”, observed in 1988.[4] Even today, residents of the Sarmakovo claim that by the 1960s and 1970s light-colored specimens had been observed in and around the village. The forestless meadow valleys like Kuruko, Sarmako, Akbochejko. und Khudatojko, close to the village of Sarmakovo, were one of the main fieldwork areas during the soviet time. Russian researchers have observed almasty here several times.

salavat   kutjatjeko

Zalavat Makushev and the lower part of Khudatojko valley, where he is said to have seen two almasty in May 2009, a half mile away from the sou- thern edge of Sarmakovo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                       

 Shadshir Bajev, 71 years old , Kabardinian, retiree, Sarmakovo, Zolsk district

Shadshir Bajev was questioned for the first time in July and for the second time in August 2009 at his house in Sarmakovo.  Another villager, who knows Bajev well, accompanied members of the German study group and told Bajev about the reason for the visit.  His reaction was unusual for a native of his age: After everyone had been seated, he began to report about his encounter immediately and in a direct manner, telling the complete story with many details.  He declared that in the fall of 1962, he met with an female almasty in Sarmakovo.  It was in the late evening and he was walking down the main street to the movie theatre close to the center of the village.  It was already dark and some fog.  Suddenly, he noticed that someone was behind him.  He stood still and used a flashlight to see what was coming from that direction.  He recognized a female almasty about three meters away.  He described her as at least a head taller than him. Bajev is 1.65 meters tall.

Her body was completely covered in dark hair, and the back was bent.  The hair on her head was long.  The long, saggy breasts were noticeable.  He described her face as “ugly – like a grimace”, with a forehead that jutted out.  The nose was flat.  The being made strange murmuring noises, and gestured towards him in an unusual manner.  He understood the gestures to be an attempt to make contact with him.  Bajev became afraid and went away quickly.  The being didn’t follow him.  When a collection of pictures of "wildmen" and prehominids was placed in front of him, he selected a reconstructive drawing of the so-called “Minnesota-Iceman” from Alika Lindbergh published by Bernard Heuvelmans in 1974.[5] He said the overall impression of this drawing was similar to that which he had seen.  But he stressed among others that the nose had been “flatter”.

In other conversations on the subject he also reported that his brother Bedal had also had an encounter with a female almasty.  He said that this almasty is said to have been friends with a former resident of Sarmakovo – Khabaz Kardanov.[6]  According to Bajev, his brother had previously worked as a tractor driver on the collective farm in Sarmakovo.  He had a friendly relationship with Khabaz Kardanov.  During this time, Kardanov worked in summer and autumn seasonally as a guard for a fruit plantation on the slope of the Mount Dzhinal, about 1.5 miles south from the village.  The area is called Shigaligo valley. 

According to Shadshir Bajev, once, in summer, his brother visited Kardanov at the fruit plantation.  During the course of their conversation, Kardanov said to him that he wanted to show him a “woman”.  He asked him: “Are you not afraid and can you stand it?” A little while later, a female almasty suddenly appeared.  Bedal was very afraid, because of the way she looked, and later he said that she looked “awful.”  He had the impression that she was afraid to get close to the men.  During the talk Shadshir Bajev imitated what his brother had shown him: the woman slowly approached both men.  Fearfully, with her arm stretched way out and her head bent back, she gave Khabaz Kardanov green tomatoes.  Completely afraid, Bedal got into his tractor, locked the door, and drove away.  Later, at home with Shadshir, he said to his mother "You won’t believe what I saw today . . . it was awful !”  and told her about his encounter. According to Shadshir Bajev, upon hearing Bedal’s report, his mother reacted among others by saying, “Why did you look at her, if she was so awful?”  Shadshir  Bajev exactly remembered that this happened after his own encounter (1962), in 1963-65. His brother Bedal died in 1967.

Furthermore, Bajev reported that once in the 1970s, he heard strange, very loud screams from the slope of the Dzhinal mountain, about a half mile away from the northern edge of Sarmakovo, early in the morning.  It was still dark.  He was at his home in the western part of the village.  The dogs in the village began to bark. Some of the neighbors had also heard the screams.  Everyone had the opinion that the almasty had screamed. [7] Bajev also reported that earlier, his father had kept bees in the Ekipzoko valley, three miles from Sarmakovo.  He told him that once during the night his dogs were barking loudly.  About 30 meters away, he saw an almasty, which the dogs had encircled.  The almasty moved strangely toward the dogs, then the dogs went away and the almasty was able to escape.

Bajev also said that he had a long-term, good relationship with Marie-Jeanne Koffmann. When he was working as the manger of the gas station for the Sarmakovo collective farm during the soviet time, Koffmann often came to him and urgently asked him for some free petrol for her car.  He remembered that it was strange because she didn’t only fill the tank of her car, she also filled two large canisters. She trusted him so much that she left her off-road car on his property when she was gone for months at a time. During the talk, Bajev showed a copy of a page from one of Koffmann’s articles in the French magazine Archeologia in 1992. Koffmann gave him this page with a photo of him and his family, during a visit in the late 1990s.[8]

Bajev is a respected person in his neighborhood, also because of his age.  During talks with members of the German group, he didn’t seem to have any sort of taboo regarding the subject.  This is strange for a man of his age and the local mentality: he often, and enthusiastically, imitated the gestures, movements, and sounds of the almasty of his encounter in Sarmakovo.  He stressed that he could still precisely remember the appearance and behaviors of the almasty and made a lot of effort to describe the details of the face.

shadshir1   shadshir2

Shadshir Bajev and  the rests of the fruit plantation on the northern slope of the eastern peak (1186 m) of Dshinal monutain range, about 1,5 miles northern from Sarmakovo, where his brother Bedal is said to have had an encounter with a female almasty in the 1960s.

 

 

Andimirkan Maremkulov, 43 years old , Kabardinian, teacher, city of Nalchik (capital of Kabardino-Balkaria)

A small granite quarry lays on a plateau between the upper Malka and Mushta-valley, about 2000 meters elevation, at the western border of Kabardino-Balkaria with Karachay-Cherkessia.  A few trailer homes are located in between, as housing for the workers.  Bulldozers and other machines are there, which are currently not in use.  The quarry was closed due to the economic crisis in Russia in the 1990s.  Since then, only guards are always present, and sometimes geologists and herdsmen are there.  At the beginning of September 2009, members of the German study group visited the area and asked the guards about strange events.  Baradin Ashajev, a Balkarian geologist from the city of Tyrnyauz and a Russian guard reported that in the past, food supplies sometimes disappeared from a metal box: including a jar with five kilograms of fat.  There were not any tracks.  Also, the dogs who were present hadn’t barked.  The men did not give this event any special meaning. 

At the beginning of September 2009, Rita and Ruslan Maremkulov from Sarmakovo gave a tip about a relative – a potential eye witness from the city
of Nalchik: Andimirkan Maremkulov. He reported to a member of the study group  that in the fall of 1994, he was working in the quarry as a brigade chief, together with seven other men.  He regularly spent the night in the trailers.  His colleague Pjotr, a Ukrainian, also slept in this trailer.  Maremkulov couldn’t remember his last name.  One morning, Pjotr asked his colleagues why they were touching him and bothering him at night while he was sleeping.  The men denied that they had bothered him.

Some days later, Pjotr asked again why they had bothered him again at night.  Someone had strangled him during the night as he lay in bed in the trailer.  Half asleep, he pushed the hands away, which woke him up, but he hadn’t seen anyone.  All his colleagues denied doing this.  The next day, Pjotr left the area because he had a few days off.  His bed was empty.  Two or three days later, Maremkulov did not sleep well.  The trailer’s door did not lock and in the trailer were not any electric lights.  Around 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning, the door opened and someone silently entered the room. When it was opened the door made a special noise. At first, Maremkulov thought it was a colleague and adressed him with his name.
He got no answer and the person went to the foot of Pjotr's empty bed and looked at it. Then, it turned his head and looked at Maremkulov. Then it went out and closed the door.  Maremkulov stressed that he wasn’t afraid during this incident – partly because he was still half asleep.  He was only irritated because he didn’t know who it had been. In a later talk Maremkulov said that he feeled the being was very unusual. Later he realized that it couldn’t have been a human and came to the conclusion that it was a Dshinn – a spirit in Islamic belief.  At the time, he throught that Pjotr was friends a the Dshinn.[9]

The next night, Maremkulov was again not calm and couldn’t sleep.  After midnight, he heard the door open.  He was afraid and was sitting at the edge of his bed. There was a electric light outside in the courtyard and a weak light came through the window. A being entered the room and looked again at Pjotr’s empty bed for a few seconds, then looked at Maremkulov and stepped right in front of his bed.  It stood squarely in front of him, about one meter away. He couldn't estimate exactly the persons size, but assumed it was not lager than than two meters. His eyes were particularly noticeable, because they glowed red. Maremkulov described these eyes as "wild, like a wild animal". He heard a heavy breath as one can hear a large animal. He was so afraid he couldn’t move and couldn't see further details because of the darkness.   After a few seconds, it turned and left the trailer, slamming the door loudly behind him.  Maremkulov didn’t tell his colleagues about this, because he was afraid that they wouldn’t believe him and would make fun of him.  Later, he spoke to his relatives about this, and came to the conclusion that he hadn’t seen a Dshinn, rather it was an almasty. He described the being with dark hair and a strong, manly structure. He noted that the being made absolutely no sounds walking on the floor - in contradiction to his colleagues.

When he was asked about other unusual events, he said that while he was working at the quarry, food supplies were sometimes disappearing – including those from a shelf which was open to everyone.  The men didn’t think this meant anything, though.  They thought that the things were stolen by homeless people, who sometimes worked as helpers for seasonal farmers at the summer farms in the area.  Some of them were thought to be dangerous because they were former prisoners.  He said it also had happened that these people killed the herders whom they were working for. 

Andimirkan Maremkulov also told about an event from his childhood in Sarmakovo.  He lived with his parents in the eastern part of the village.  Around 1979-80, in the spring, he was alone at home one evening.  It was already dark, and their two large dogs began to bark.  They were barking as if a stranger was approaching the house.  Maremkulov left the house and went into the courtyard.  There, he saw a large person standing behind the courtyard gate.  At first he thought it was the neighbor, who was also relatively large.  He called to the person with the neighbor’s name and asked, “Is that you?”  The person didn’t answer.  When he came closer he realized that  this person was significantly larger than his neighbor.  He went to the gate, opened it, and saw the person leaving the gate in the direction of a small stone wall, about one meter tall.  The person jumped over the wall.  Maremkulov then realized that this person was not human, because a human could never jump like that. 

The dogs came running of out the courtyard and stood in front of the wall barking, where the stranger had disappeared behind it.  Maremkulov went back into the courtyard, the dogs followed him and ran into the bordering yard, barking.  Maremkulov followed them.  The yard was fenced in with a chain-link fence, about two meters tall.  Suddenly he saw the person walking along the outside of the fence and he recognized that the person's head was higher than the fence. The dogs followed it, barking loudly, from the inside of the fence until the end of the yard.  There, the person disappeared into the darkness.  Based on the fence, Maremkulov could determine that the person was slightly taller than two meters.  When his parents came back that night, he told them about it, and the parents said that he must have seen an almasty, which Maremkulov is convinced of today.

maremkulov1   maremkulov2  



Andimirkan Maremkulov and the granite quarry where he is said to have seen an almasty. The granite quarry can be seen on the top of the mount with a fan of rock debrister in one of the subvalleys of Mushta.

j
maremkulov3   maremkulov4

Trailers and mashines at the granite quarry today. The trailers are in the center of the picture (left). The trailer in which Andimirkan Maremkulov slept and claims to have had a meeting with an almasty (right).                                                                                                      


Mukhadin Kliynshev, 56 years old , Kabardinian, cattle breeder, Sarmakovo, Zolsk district

Kliynshev  reported that in about 1978 he was working during the summer as a herdsman at a farm in the upper Kuruko-valley, two miles from Sarmakovo. This farm no longer exists.  Only the foundations remain.  One morning in summer, around 4 am, it was not completely dark, he wanted to ride his horse home to Sarmakovo.  However, he couldn’t find it around the  barn.  The night before, he had hobbled it like usual, so that it could only take small steps.  Kliynshev looked into the large sheep barn and there he saw his horse, standing in the dawn about 20 meters away.  The barn had no windows. He saw a large, dark human-like figure standing behind the horse – but larger and stronger than a regular man.  The horse wasn’t moving, although it wasn’t tied up.  The being also stood still, but because of the dark he couldn’t see any details.  Kliynshev understood that this was an almasty, was afraid, and went back into the shepherd’s house.  About an hour later he went back to the barn.  His horse was still standing there, but the almasty had disappeared.  He led the horse out of the stall and noticed that its mane had been braided into several precise braids – each of them was, according to Kliynshev, about as thick  "as two human fingers.”

When Kliynshev was asked about the topic, he showed another location of a former farm, where also only the foundations remained – about a half mile up the valley in the Kuruko.  He worked here during the summer at the beginning of the 1970s.  According to him all the herders knew that the almasty always came to this farm in the summer, if cattle were present.  The herders didn’t know where the almasty came from and they were not interested in.  Klyinshev said that Marie-Jeanne Koffmann had a good relationship with the herders and often came to this farm.  She installed several times photo-traps on the farm.  He didn’t know any specifics about how the traps worked.  He only remembered that Koffmann laid long lengths of cable that were connected to the traps.  He didn’t know if she was able to photograph an almasty with these traps.  He himself had never seen an almasty on this farm, although his colleagues had.

The upper Kuruko valley where Kliynshev saw the supposed almasty in the sheep barn is the same locality  where Gregory Panchenko had his known encounter in 1991. According to Dmitri Bayanov, at the time the information came from a Kabardinian Ali Mukov, that braids had appeared in his horse’s mane in a barn in Kuruko valley.[10]  Gregory Panchenko is said to has observed an almasty in that barn watching the horse at night. Mukov also reported in Sylvain Pallix' film Almasty. Yeti du Caucase about Panchenko's encounter.[11]  In July 1998, Ali Mukov was visited at his home in Sarmakovo by a member of the German study group.  A Kabardinian interpreter from the neighboring village Kamenomostskoye, who Mukov knew personally, was also present.  Mukov was asked to tell about Panchenko and his observation once more.  The question seemed to make him very uncomfortable.  At first he claimed that he didn’t know anything about that and that he didn’t know the people involved.  When he was told that Marie-Jeanne Koffmann had published this story, he became very embarrassed.  After a period of silence, he finally said that he knew of Gregory Panchenko and Marie-Jeanne Koffmann.  He also knew what they were looking for.  But he insisted that he knew nothing about braids in his horse’s mane and Panchenko's encounter.

mukov1  

When collecting informations on the subject in Sarmakovo and neighbouring villages, one often can find that the locals were asked by Marie-Jeanne Koffmann not to tell strangers anything about almasty. Ali Mukov was visited again in Sarmakovo in August 2009 because of Kliynshev’s report. This time he claimed to not know Koffmann or Panchenko.  It was again visible that these questions made him very uncomfortable.






 

Ali Mukov in Sarmakovo (August 2009).

 

kliynshev   klyinshev4

Mukhadin Kliynshev and the site of the former farm on the upper end of Kuruko valley, where he worked in the 1970s and where Marie-Jeanne Koffman installed photo traps.

klyinshev2   klyinshev3

The remains of the barn in the upper Kuruko, where Kliynshev saw an almasty (left). A general view of the same location. Now, beekeepers are located here. Gregory Panchenko, a close coworker of  Marie-Jeanne Koffmann, is said to have had an encounter in the upper Kuruko in 1991 (right). Dmitri Bayanov (1996) mentioned his "...own vigils in Kabarda, including that very ravine of Kuruko..." [12]


Aldigeri Tilov, 82 years old, Balkarian, retiree, Zhankhoteko, Baksan district

A member of the Balkarian Salikhanov family in Elbrus village informed that in July 2009, two journalists from the Kabardino-Balkarian capital Nalchik were collecting reports about almasty in the upper Baksan valley.  The Salikhanovs shared that journalists had received a tip that the Balkarian Aldigeri Tilov in  Zankhoteko village had been an eye witness.  In July 2009, Tilov was visited at his home in Zhankhoteko.  He is a well respected person in his village.  Despite being 82 years old, he seemed to be mentally fit and didn’t seem to have any sort of taboo in connection with the subject.

When asked about his observation, he reported the following: In the mid-90s, at the location of the former Balkarian village Gubasanty in the upper Baksan valley he was moving grass.  He spent the night there in a herder’s hut – part of a former state farm.  He woke up around 4:00 in the morning, and saw, from his elevated cot, a being sitting about 1.5 meters away from him.  He thought it was an almasty.  The being was squatting on the ground and looked at him without moving.  He described it as relatively small, fully covered in dark hair, long hair on its head and "an ugly human face.”  When Tilov moved while lying down, the being jumped up and disappeared through the door.  Tilov stressed that it moved very fast and almost without any noise. A collection of pictures of “wildmen” and pictures of pre-hominids was shown to Tilov.  He chose a drawing by Alika Lindbergh – of the so-called “Minnesota Iceman” - as being closest to the being which he had seen.[13]

In another talk, he mentioned another eye witness – one of his relatives, Pakhau Tilov,  88 years old, who lives in Tegenekli village, upper Baksan valley, Elbrus district.  The German study group already knew about him: in 1998 he was questioned in Gubasanty.  At the time, he reported on his encounter about 3-4 years earlier at that location.  In December 2002 he reported to a member of the German group that in summer 2002 he had again seen an almasty in the Gubasanty area one evening.  In July 2009, Pakhau Tilov claimed that “in the past few years” he had been able to observe groups of almasty multiple times.  Aldigeri Tilov doubted this reports: Pakhau Tilov had not visited Gubasanty and other localities in the past years due to his advanced age.

Aldigeri Tilov also mentioned another Balkarian, Khadshi Khadshiev, citizen of Tegenekli, upper Baksan valley. He had already been questioned by members of the German study group in 1999 and 2000. He claimed that he had never seen an almasty. In one of this talks, Khadshiev told a story which is well known among Balkarians in various versions: When the Balkarian nation lived in mid-Asia in the 1940-50s, a Balkarian who lived in Kazakhstan became friends with a female almasty.  At the end of the 50s, the Balkarian returned to the Caucasus.  About a year later the almasty woman appeared to her Balkarian friend in the Caucasus.  She showed him her wounded feet.  It is said that she followed him out of Kazakhstan on foot.  Another of this type of well known stories is that of a Balkarian who hid himself in a cave in  Balkarias Mountains because of the deportation  of the Karachay-Balkarian nation to mid-Asia during the Second World War. He is said to have lived in this cave for 30 years.  Balkarians claim that during this time he often had contact with almasty.  Even today, it is possible to hear such similar stories among the locals. In July 2009, a resident of the Nejtrino settlement in the upper Baksan valley stated that Khadshi Khadshiev is also an almasty eyewitness.  She claimed that Khadshiev also knows the exact location of a grave of an almasty child in the forest close to Tegenekli, but doesn’t talk to strangers about it.

tilov1   gubasanty

Aldigeri Tilov and the hut in Gubasanty, part of a former State Farm, where he had seen a possible almasty in the mid-1990s.

tilov2   khadshiev

Aldigeri Tilov examines a collection of drawings of "wildmen" and pre-hominids in his house in Zhankhoteko (left). Khadshi Khadshiev, one of the oldest citizens of Tegenekli, who is said to have known the grave of an almasty child in the forest near tto his village (right).

 

Larisa Orisheva, 45 years old, Russian, teacher, Sarmakovo, Zolsk district

In July or August, 1986, Orisheva was sleeping with her husband at night on the ground floor of her home in Sarmakovo.  The house is located near to the main street, not far from the village center.  The bedroom window was opened into the garden.  It was a warm night with a full moon.  Orisheva did not sleep well.  About 3:00 in the morning, half asleep, she saw that someone was standing still outside, in front of the window.  Apparently, the person was looking through the curtain, into the room.  At first she thought it was her mother-in-law and shut her eyes.  A few minutes later Orisheva looked to the window again.  The person was still standing there.  Then, completely awake, she realized that the person was significant taller than her mother-in-law.  Orisheva sat up in bed so she could see better.

At that moment, the person pushed the curtain to the side with their hand and bent over slightly.  Orisheva realized this wasn't a human. The visible part of the body was completely covered in hair.  Long hair on the head went down past the shoulders.  She described the color as “silver-gray.”  She assumed this could have been because of the moonlight.  She couldn’t see any facial details because of the darkness.  She didn’t notice any glowing eyes.  The upper body was significantly wider and stronger than that of a human.  Orisheva  screamed in fear.  This woke up her husband Zaur, and he asked what had happened.  She gestured toward the window, but there was no longer anyone there.  The dogs began to bark.  Zaur Orishev thought there was a thief on their property.  He woke up his brother, who was sleeping in the next room.  They both ran outside with their hunting rifles and went around the house, but didn’t see anything strange. Later, Orishev and his brother came to the conclusion that it was an almasty.

The next morning, they found large, human-like tracks in the yard which led away from the house.  No tracks were discovered under the window.  The windowsill was about  1.5 meters high.  Zaur Orishev therefore guessed that the almasty was about 2.20 meters tall.  Larisa Orisheva  is not a local, rather, she is a Russian who comes from Barnaul in southern Siberia.  Therefore she didn’t understand what an almasty was at first.  She had never heard of them up until this event.  She spoke about this with her mother-in-law, who lives in the neighboring house.  She told her she shouldn’t speak to anyone about this, because that is “not good.”  In the following days, there were rumors among there neighbors that others had also seen almasty, and Orisheva spoke with them about that.

According to Orisheva, because of the rumors the family was visited by Marie-Jeanne Koffmann a few days after the event.  Orisheva told Koffmann about her observation and showed her the footprints in the garden.  Koffmann made plaster casts of the tracks, and investigated the window and the windowsill.  She took fingerprints from this.  During Koffmann’s talk with Orisheva, Orisheva asked what could have happened if she hadn’t screamed.  Koffmann told her that usually, in those cases, the almasty comes into the room, opens the closets and looks through everything.  Usually it doesn’t touch the humans. She stressed that this case was not unusual and has happened in the village before.  At the end of the talk, Koffmann recommended: “If you don’t believe in the existence of the almasty, you shouldn’t tell anyone about that !”

Orisheva also reported on an event, which she had some weeks before this case.  She thought there was a connection between both events:  she was alone at home during the day, and stood next to a barrel in the courtyard, while she was working during the mid-day.  The barrel was filled with water.  Suddenly, someone tackled her from behind and held her head under water.  At first, she thought her husband was playing a joke on her.  But then she was held under water for so long she ran out of breath and started to panic.  Suddenly, her head was let go and she could breathe again.  This happened three or four times.  The last time she was released she was so short of breath that she couldn’t turn around.  Afterward, she didn’t see anyone on the property.  There weren’t any family members at home during this time.  Her husband Zaur came home from work in the evening.  No one could explain this situation. 

Orisheva's  Kabardinian husband, Zaur Orishev, works at present as a director for forestry in Zolsk district.  In September 2009, he reported the following: It was around August 2003 that he came home from the hay harvest in the evening: he drove two cars with his own men from the neigboring village Sovkhoznoe to Sarmakovo.  It was already dark.  He sat in the second car.  His son was in the first car, with five other boys.  When they could see Sarmakovo, the front car suddenly stopped.  Some of the boys came towards the second car, very worked up.  One of them asked the men: "Did you see that?"  One of the boys claimed to have seen a dark haired woman, holding the hand of a small, hairy child, crossing the street in front of the car.  The son of Orishev admitted that he had only seen a shadow. 

The potential eye witness could not be reached during the time of the documentation.  Orishev explained that  he got out of his car and looked in the direction that the woman is said to have gone.  There he saw a dark silhouette standing near a directional sign, about 50 meters away.  It was similar to a large, human figure.  It was leaning against the sign.  The men got back into their cars and drove home.

Orishev also reported: His grandmother lived in the eastern edge of Sarmakovo.  There, she had a large garden with plum trees, which were planted thickly and therefore made a type of hedge.  A path led through the trees.  Once, in the 1960s, his grandmother was walking along the path through the garden and heard strange noises in the brush.  She went to the place where the noises were coming from and pushed the branches apart.  She saw two almasty sitting on the ground and eating plums.  They were pulling the branches down and picking the plums.  They broke open the pit with stones and ate the inside.  The grandmother went away quietly.  Orishev also knew that his grandmother regularly put food for the almasty in the garden, even though she didn’t talk about it.  Orishev is a known and respected person in the village.  It appeared that he didn’t have any sort of taboo about the subject, but also no particular interest.  He said that he has heard stories about the almasty since he was a child and that in his opinion, it is hard to find someone among the very old villagers who is not an eye witness.  By this he means the generation which was born around 1920.

orishev   ori-window
Zaur Orishev and a part of his courtyard in Sarmakovo with the open window of his bedroom. His wife Larisa is said to have seen an almasty looking into this window during a night in summer 1986. The specimen had left fingerprints on the window and footprints in the garden. The event was also documented by Marie -Jeanne Koffmann.

 

Hassan Altudov, 74 years old, Kabardinian, retiree, Sarmakovo, Zolsk district

He reported that he once was working on a summer evening in the middle Ekiptsoko valley in the late 1960s.  This is located about four miles away from Sarmakovo.  There he saw, totally unexpected in the daylight, a being which he immediately recognized as an almasty is few meters away.  He only saw its back.  The being was sitting in the brush, and was similar to a human except that he was completely covered in dark hair.  Coincidently, Altudov  met Marie-Jeanne Koffmann the next day in Sarmakovo and told her about his encounter.  She asked him to show her where the place was, which Altudov did.  According to him, Koffmann is said to have waited for almasty at this place for three days and nights.  Later she told Altudov that she wasn’t able to observe anything.  

This report is a typical example of an encounter from the last decades, which can still be easily collected today in Sarmakovo and the neighboring villages. The talk with Hassan Altudov only lasted about 10 minutes.  He was randomly met on the edge of Sarmakovo. There hadn’t been any meetings with him previously.  The talk went to the subject of almasty immediately because of the question if he knew Marie-Jeanne Koffmann.  By asking questions about Koffmann and her collages, it is possible to steer the conversation with locals right to the subject.  Direct questions about almasty are often an awkward conversation opener because of the villagers long-standing taboo, and hinder the conversation.

altudov akajazyrt  
Hassan Altudov and typical landscape in the middle part of Ekiptsoko valley, where he is said to have observed an almasty in the late 1960s. The valley with Mt. Akajazyrt (1451 m) is the site of many encounters, five miles south-west of Sarmakovo. It is the only valley with some forest close to the village.



Khamzat Misiev,16 years old, Balkarian, jobless, Bylym, Elbrus district

Some young Balkarians claim to have had multiple encounters with  almasty in March 2009. It has been said this happened at a herder’s hut in the middle part of Baksan valley, Elbus district. This case remembers to a report by the Murmansk criminologist Leonid Yershov. This stated that a group of teenagers had, during the summer 1988, contact over several days to a hominoid, which they named Afonya, in the centre of the Kola Peninsular.[14] During the research into these events, the hut was visited together with one of the possible eye witnesses: the 16 year old   Khamzat Misiev from the Balkarian village Bylym.  The hut is located about two miles above  Bylym,  about 200 meters from the busy main road in the valley, separated by the river and only reachable by a bridge close to  Bylym.   The locality is called „Dshaumal“ in Balkarian, but the Russian name „Deviaty Kilometr“ (meaning “the ninth kilometer”) is more common.

The hut is freestanding on the bottom of the valley, surrounded by small outbuildings and flat fields.  In the summer, hay is made around the hut.  In the fall, the cattle are herded here from the mountain pastures for the winter.  Bees are also kept.  The hut does not have electricity. During the research, the hut’s current owner Rashid Uzdenov was met during the first visit to the hut.  Prior to the meeting with him, Khamzat Misiev explained that he was not present during the events in March 2009, but had been informed about them.  Misiev claimed that Uzdenov knows a lot about almasty, but doesn’t talk to strangers about that topic.  Residents of the Bylym village claim that the prior owner of the hut, Seifu Uzdenov, a relative of Rashid, fed almasty at this location.  Seifu Uzdenov has since died. During the talk, Rashid Uzdenov was friendly and invited the guests for tea.  Misiev told him about the reason for the visit.  One could recognize that this topic made Uzdenov uncomfortable.  He explained that he wouldn’t believe the teenager’s stories.  In the following talks, he always tried to change the topic to other subjects.

The events were outlined by Khamzat Misiev as follows: In middle of March 2009, there was cattle around the hut.  The owner, Rashid Uzdenov, was not present, because he was at a funeral.  Misiev drove to the hut in a car with five friends: Taulan Bajsulaev, Asker Omarov, Khanapi Dinajev, Ismail Uzdenov from Bylym and Khakim Kurdanov from the village Verkhni Baksan.  They were between 16 and 23 years old. At dusk, they sat in the car next to the hut, smoked and listened to music.  They were all in a good mood.  Suddenly, Ismail Uzdenov said that he saw a dark, strange figure outside, about 10 meters away. Some of the boys got out of the car, but didn’t see anything.  They thought that Uzdenov had played a joke on them.  They got back into the car. A short time later, Khakim Kurdanov suddenly yelled, “He’s there!” and pointed outside.  The windows were fogged up, but Khamzat Misiev cleared a patch and saw a large, dark, humanlike figure disappear behind the hut.  The boys had a bad feeling, but couldn’t drive away because the car was broken.  Therefore, they went inside the hut.  The door was locked from the inside.  When talking about the observation, they came to the conclusion they had seen a Dshinn - a spirit in the Islamic beliefs. They looked around the area through the window.  By now it had become quite dark.

An old truck was parked about 150 meters away from the hut.  Suddenly, some of the boys saw through the window a large, dark figure similar to a human at the truck.  This being walked around the truck and disappeared behind it.  Suddenly, at almost the same moment, directly in front of the window, less then  two meters away, a large dark figure appeared.  Misiev was standing directly in front of the window.  He said that to him, it appeared to be two beings because the time between the disappearance of one and appearance of the other was so short. Shocked, one of the boys shined a flashlight on the being through the window.  Misiev described it as human-like, but about 2.2 meters tall, large, powerful built and covered in dark hair.  The hair on the scalp was long, and went down below its shoulders.  Misiev stressed that it was easy to see pointy ears from the head’s silhouette, which stuck out between the hair.  There was a lighter area on the being’s chest, but he couldn’t describe it in any more detail, as well as details of the face.

The boys were scared and hid themselves in the hut. They could hear sounds coming from a tin roof next to the hut, which sounded like steps or hits.  A short time later, one of the boys again saw the dark figure close to the hut through the window.  The boys called their families and friends in Bylym on their mobile phones. Because of this, around 10:00 p.m. two young men from the village arrived at the hut in a car: the brother of Taulan Bajsulaev and his neighbor Takhir Shavaev.  When they arrived, all the boys came out of the hut and looked around.  Shavaev saw a dark figure next to the car of the boys, disappeared into the darkness.  Once again, they called the village. Over the next few hours, a number of cars came to the hut from the village.  Now, there were about 30 people at the hut.  There were no further observations that night.   A few people – youth and adults – spent the night in the hut with the boys.  Others drove back into the village.  Nothing strange happened the next three days.

On the fourth day, Asker Omarov, Khakim Kurdanov and Taulan Bajsulaev drove to the nearby city Tyrnyauz. Khamzat Misiev and Ismail Uzdenov stayed at the hut by themselves.  Around midnight, they heard sounds outside.  They went outside with a lamp and a pitchfork.  The sounds were made by the three boys, who had returned from Tyrnyauz at that moment.  A few minutes later, Khanapi Dinajev arrived by chance with his horse, to spend the night in the hut.  Everyone lay down to sleep.  Noises woke Khamzat Misiev at 4:00 am. The room was lit with a 12 volt lamp.

In the next room, he saw Khakim Kurdanov standing at the hut’s door with a knife.  Kurdanov was very worked up, and spoke extremely excited in Balkarian to someone who seemed to be standing outside, in front of the closed door: “Don’t come in!  I didn’t do anything to you!  Why are you hitting me?”  Agitated, he took a chair and threw it against the door.  This caused the door to fly open.  Now everyone was awake.  In a rage, Kurdanov threw various objects outside through the open door – including plates which had been sitting on the table.  Misiev jumped up, took a blanket, and wanted to throw it over Kurdanov in order to calm him down.  Kurdanov was wearing a short sleeved shirt and Miseiv saw that he had three bloody scratches on his arm.  He was also bleeding from the mouth.  Kurdanov yelled at Misiev, „He’ll kill you!“  He ran outside the hut with his knife, but returned immediately.  Misiev threw the blanket over him and punched him a few times to calm him down.  But Kurdanov just threw off the blanket and ran back outside.

Outside, one could hear noises like two men fighting.  Shortly thereafter, Kurdanov came back inside the hut. The boys jumped on Kurdanov, punched him and threw water in his face to bring him back to his senses.  He pulled himself away and ran back outside.  Once again, the same strange noises could be heard outside.  He came back into the hut, threw his knife outside through the window and the boys tackled him, threw him on a bed, and held him tightly.  Slowly, he calmed down, but didn’t want to say what had happened.  A while later, the boys went outside with lamps, but didn’t see anything strange. The rest of the night was quiet.  In the morning, the boys couldn’t find anything strange around the hut.  They looked for Kurdanov’s knife but couldn’t find it.  Kurdanov still didn’t want to tell them what had happened and how he had been injured.  A short time later, he left the republic to go to Murmansk city, Northern Russia, to work there as a seasonal worker.

At the time this event was documented, he hadn’t yet returned from Murmansk.  Khamzat Misiev and the other boys were convinced that Kurdanov had a confrontation with an almasty that night.  The documented events are based mainly on what Misiev told. Ismail Uzdenov was questioned. He could confirm Misiev’s report, but he couldn’t be questioned about all of the details because he talked about the events with obvious discomfort and did not want any photos or videos made.  None of the other participants could be questioned in 2009, because they were no longer in the village.

misiev   dshaumal2

Khamzat Misiev and the herder's hut, where the observations took place.

dshaumal1   dshaumal5

The hut as seen from the street from Bylym to the city of Tyrnyauz (left). A general view of a part of the middle Baksan valley: One can see Baksan river and the street Bylym-Tyrnyauz. The arrow shows the location of the hut, two miles south-west of Bylym (right).                                                          
  

 


Adam Khashkulov,  Kabardinian, 49 years old, tractor mechanic, Sarmakovo, Zolsk district

In June and July of 2001, various residents of Sarmakovo claimed to have seen almasty multiple times in their village.  At the same time, there were multiple mysterious deaths of domesticated donkeys.  There were rumors among the villagers, that almasty had killed these donkeys.  Three eye witnesses, who claimed to have seen almasty in the village during this time, could be questioned for the first time in July 2009.  All three said to have seen almasty within a few days, near or on their property, which were about 100 meters apart.  One of these witnesses was Adam Khashkulov.

One morning in June 2001, at dawn, he went to the toilet in the courtyard behind his house.  His dog barked and howled in a strange manner toward a certain direction.  He looked in this direction.  A wall about two meters tall stood there, which connected two buildings.  Two unusual human-like heads were looking over the wall and were clearly observing him.  He described them as having “lots of hair, unshaved, and with light eyes.”  One of the heads was a bit higher than the other, as if this particular specimen was taller.  They didn’t move.  He watched the two heads about two minutes, from about six meters away.  Then they disappeared and he went back into the house.

Three days later, again at dawn, he saw two very large, human-like, hairy beings in his garden behind the wall.  He went that direction and saw them about eight meters away: they stood next to each other, turning their upper bodies slightly, so that their arms swung back and forth.  He could clearly hear their heavy breathing. Than they disappeared.A short time later, he saw how the two quickly climbed the slope of a hill behind his house, about 100 meters away on the edge of the village.  In the morning, he found some fragments of tracks in his garden.  Prints from toes could be clearly seen. Adam Khashkulov spoke with his neighbors about his observations, and they quickly became known in the village.  As a result, a few policemen visited Khashkulov.  They spent two nights on his property and observed the area.  They were armed and used night vision equipment.  However, they couldn’t observe anything out of the ordinary.

Some villagers suspected there was a connection between the almasty observations and the multiple donkey killings in the village in the prior weeks.  The belly of the animals had been opened and some inner organs were missing.  Later, rumors surfaced that the donkeys had been killed by men from the neighboring village, who were using the inner organs for pharmaceutical purposes. The almasty observations were also documented by Muaed Malzurgenov, english teacher in Sarmakovo and a former coworker of Marie-Jeanne Koffmann. Amerbi Kumyshev, chief gamekeeper of the Zolsk district from the village Kamenomostskoye, visited Adam Khashkulov and his neighbors as well as Muaed Malzurgenov who had developed some photos of the tracks. Amerbi Kumyshev has been friends with Marie-Jeanne Koffmann and is one of her local informants.   Adam Kashkulov also reported that his neighbor Akhed Kalov, who at the time had also seen two almasty at night on the street in front of his courtyard gate – about 100 meters away from the place where Khashkulov had his encounter.

khashkulov1   khashkulov4

Adam Khashkulov. He stands in front of the wall where he saw two heads. The wall is higher now and part of a shed.

khashkulov3   khashkulov2

Adam Khashkulov with one of his neighbours exactly at the place in his garden where he saw two almasty (left). Adam Khashkulov's garden (right).



Akhed Kalov, Kabardinian, 49 years old, factory worker, Sarmakovo, Zolsk district

Kalov, who works as a heating technician in a school and a worker in the wine factory of Sarmakovo, reported the following:  One June night in 2001, it was raining.  Around midnight, he heard sounds outside his courtyard door.  He thought it was his son who was returning home.  He went to the door, opened it, and looked at the street.  On the sidewalk in from of his house he saw two dark-haired, human like beings walking.  Kalov described them as “taller and waider than normal humans”.  They walked about 8-10 meters away from him and didn’t seem to notice him.  They walked slowly, with human-like movements.  Kalov realized immediately that these were not humans, got scared, went back inside the house and told his wife what had happened.  Kalov stressed that the next day, the donkey of one of his neighbors was found dead.  Some of the internal organs were missing. About 100 meters away from Akhet Kalov’s house is Khaset Patova’s house.

kalov1   kalov2

Akhet Kalov and and the gate to his courtyard with the street in Sarmakovo where he is said to have seen two almasty in summer 2001.

                                                                           

Khaset Patova, Kabardinian, 57 years old, housewife, Sarmakovo, Zolsk district


Khaset Patova said that her encounter happened a few days before that of her neighbor Adam Kkashkulov.  He later told her about it. In June 2001 Patova could not sleep well one night.  Around 4:00 a.m. – it was still dark – she happened to glance out the window into her courtyard.  She thought she saw someone there and turned on a lamp which lit up the courtyard from inside the house.  About 10 meters away from the house, there was a bench in front of a wall.  She saw two human-like beings sitting on this bench.  They were sitting there like people and weren’t moving.  Patova immediately saw that these weren’t humans.  Both were completely covered in hair.  One of the beings was dark – but the other was lighter.  Patova described the fur color as white.  The beings sat there, looking toward the house that Patova was observing them from.  After about a minute, both stood up, and calmly walked away from the house to the yard bordering it.  Both were about the same size and disappeared into the darkness.  Patova reported that she was scared while she was observing them, because these were clearly not humans.  There were no tracks to be found the next day.  According to Patova in the following days, there were rumors in the neighborhood that other villagers had also seen a dark and a light specimen during this time at night. While talking with Patova's neighbour Akhet Kalov in front of his house, another of his neighbors happened by, who is also one of Adam Khashkulov’s relatives: Nurbi Kkashkulov.

patova1   patova2

Khaset Patova. She stands exactly at the place in her courtyard where she is said to have seen two almasty sat on a bench.

patova3  
Khaset Patova's property at the southern edge of Sarmakovo. These typs of houses were typical oft he Kabardinian villages in the Soviet time. Over the last twenty years, larger and more modern houses were built more than the traditional homes, which chaged the charcter of the villages.



Nurbi Khashkulov, Kabardinian, 50 years old, historian, Sarmakovo, Zolsk district

Nurbi Khashkulov said that he works as a historian.  According to Muaed Malzurgenov, citizen of Sarmakovo Khashkulov worked at the time as a driver. [15]  When Khashkulov heard what his neighbors were talking about, he reported the following: when he was a schoolboy, around 1974, one summer night around 10:00 p.m., he was walking home, down the street where Adam Khashkulov’s house is also located.  It was already dark.  Two boys the same age were walking with him.  Suddenly about 20 to 30 meters away, they saw a large, human-like figure with dark hair cross the path in front of them.  This “person” came from one of the properties on the street and went into another property on the other side.  In doing so, he climbed over a small wall, which was bordering this property.  Nurbi Kkashkulov described this “person” as large and strong, “like a basketball player.”  The being walked slowly, but with large steps.  The boys were frightened, and called “come out –we saw you!” when the being disappeared.  They stood at this spot for a while, but didn’t see anything more and then went home.  At home, Nurbi Khashkulov told his parents about this.  They didn’t react with any amount of surprise, and said that that had probably been an almasty. Reports like Khashkulov' can be easily collected even today inside the village.

nurbi1   nurbi2

Nurbi Khashkulov and the street in Sarmakovo where he saw in his childhood an almasty crossing the street.

                            

Madinat Khaupsheva, Kabardinian, 81 years old, retiree, Sarmakovo, Zolsk district

khaupsheva  
Madinat Khaupsheva spent her childhood in Kamenomostskoye a neighboring village of Sarmakovo.  One morning during her childhood she left the stall to go to the house of her family. It was in summer in the late morning. She carried a bucket of milk and a cup of sour cream in her hands.  Suddenly, a type of hairy woman jumped out toward her, who looked horrible.  The woman made strange noises, as if she wanted to play with Khaupsheva and “danced” around her.  She could see large, long breasts, long hair on her head, without clothes but completely covered with gray hair.  Khaupsheva cried “Papa!”. Her father came out of the house and the “woman” ran away. The father told her that that had been an almasty.  An abandoned house was close by and the villagers knew that almasty lived there. Madinat Khaupsheva couldn't remember the exact year, but she knew it was during the summer of the German occupation of a part of the northern Caucasus with Kabardino-Balkaria.That happened in 1942.



Madinat Khaupsheva in her house in Sarmakovo in July 2009.



 

 

Zaur Kalov, Kabardinian, 32 years old, factory worker, Sarmakovo, Zolsk district

In the mid-1990s, Kalov spent his conscription time in the army as a border soldier on the Russian-Georgian border in the Elbrus district, Kabardino-Balkaria.  He spent one winter night in a hut for border soldiers on a mountain pass, in a subvalley of the upper Baksan valley.  He left the hut around midnight to urinate behind the building.  The snow was lit up by the moon.  He went behind the hut, where there was a pile of garbage and suddenly saw, about 5-6 meters away, a human-like being squatting there.  The being was rummaging through the garbage. It was about the same size as a medium-sized adult.  Kalov saw that it was not a human and today believes that it was an almasty: completely covered with dark hair, without obvious clothing.  Kalov thinks that the almasty was searching for food in the garbage.  He was quite startled, screamed in fear, and went back into the hut.  He got his weapon and shot multiple times into the air to scare off the being.  When he looked back behind the hut, the alleged being had disappeared. In the following nights Kalov and other guards saw this type of being several times at a greater distance. The being set off multiple signals, which had been installed to monitor for illegal border crossings. Kalov told this story to one of his neighbours in Sarmakovo who informed the german study group. He expressed his agreement to talk about his story with the foreigners.

In July and August 2009 it was several times attempted to speak with Kalov personally, but every time he declared by phone that he had no time for a talk. His neighbour assumed that he was afraid of such talk. One time it was only possible to meet with Kalov's mother at his home. The mother acted very friendly at first, but when she understood the reason of the visit she turned down any attempt at additional talks with the words: "Leave us alone! We want to live in peace!" Later Kalov only agreed to report his story again to his neighbour on the phone.

 

Khizir Khashkulov, Kabardinian, 82 years old, retireer, Zajukovo, Baksan district

On the mountain plateau between the villages Gundelen and Kamenomostskoye there is a collection of buildings: apartments, a small cheese factory, a store, and administrative building.  During the Soviet time, it was one of the centers of the local pasture economy.  The area is called Kaimasha.  Today, most of these buildings are no longer being used.  Presently, only guards are working there, and the administration for the surrounding pasture areas.  In the winter of 2007-2008, the 82-year-old Kabardinian Khizir Kaskulov  from the village Zajukovo was working there as a helper for the bookkeeper. 

khaimasha  

Once, at night, he happened to look out the window.  Snow was on the ground.  He looked at one of the building across from him and saw a large, human-like being, which was leaning against the side of the house with relaxed posture.  He saw immediately that it wasn’t a human: covered in dark hair and with long hair on its scalp.  He became very afraid and quickly left the window.  The next morning he told the other men who were there about it.  They didn’t think the observation had any particular meaning.  Some of the men who worked in Khaimasha in September 2009 talked about this.

 

 


Herders hut at Khaimasha, about 300 meters away from the buildings where Khizir Khashkulov is said to have seen an almasty in winter 2007.

  
Alexander Ocheretko, Russian, 55 years old, beekeeper, Prokhladny, Prokhladny district

The beekeeper Alexander Ocheretko, from the city Prokhladny in the north of Kabardino-Balkaria spent the summer of 2009 with his bees in Tyzyl valley, Elbrus district.  A member of the German group met him for the first time in 1998 in the Ekipzoko valley, close to Sarmakovo.  When asked about strange occurrences, Ocheretko reported in 2009 that in about 1999, a frame with honeycombs had been stolen out of his beehive.  He thought this was very strange because dogs always guarded his truck with the bees.

In the evening of September 5, 2009, Alexander Ocheretko was sitting together with his Russian colleague Sergey Ponotarenko by the camp fire next to his truck with the bees in the middle part of Tyzyl valley.  It was not yet completely dark.  Suddenly, around 9:00, he heard two very loud screams coming from the valley slope across from him, about 500 meters away.  Ocheretko had never heard screams like this.  The slope is covered with brush.  Ocheretko’s two small dogs acted afraid and pushed themselves against the men’s legs.  The screams made his colleague Sergey Ponotarenko afraid and suggested that they leave the next day.  At first Ocheretko thought it was someone playing a joke, but then realized that a person can’t scream like that.  According to his report, he imitated the scream, which was answered by another scream.  The next day, Ocheretko visited other beekeepers from the village Priblishnaja, who had spent the night about a half mile up the river.  They had also heard the screams, but also thought it was someone playing a joke.  The next night, around the same time, there were two more screams.  No screams were heard in the following days.  During the interview, Ocheretko was asked to imitate the screams.  He tried hard to produce a similar scream.  The results sounded like a scream while had been recorded 30 years ago by Katja and Alain Mahuzier in the upper Baksan valley, Elbrus district.[16]

In 1999, the story of the Balkarian cattle breeder Bakalaj Khodujev were recorded by the German study group in the Balkarian village Gundelen, lower Tyzyl valley.  Around 1997, he heard loud, strange screams, which he thought were the screams of almasty.  This happened at night, in the fall, at his herder’s hut on the slope of Mt. Dzhambash (1928 m) on the edge of the middle Tyzyl valley, about one mile away from the place where Alexander Ocheretko had heard the screams in September 2009.

ocheretko1   ocheretko2

Alexander Ocheretko and the truck with his bees in the middle Tyzyl valley. In the background is the slope where the screams were coming from.

                                                         *

At the end of September 2009 a local informant shared that in the city Baksan, trees were damaged in a few fruit gardens.  According to the rumors, almasty were said to have caused these damages.  The city is the center of the district with the same name, with mostly village-like characteristics.  The area was visited.  One of the owners of  damaged trees, Anzor Shogenov, was very cooperative and allowed his trees to be investigated.  Bark had been removed from a number of his fruit trees, as well as from some neighboring gardens.  These were young, healthy trees whose bark was not too old or loose.  A human could not remove bark from these trees without tools.  On some on the trees, the trunk had been completely “peeled” up to a height of about  1.5 meters.  The bark was only partially removed on some other trees.  Some places had scratch marks and grooves.  On one tree, the marks looked like they had come from four fingers with massive fingernails.  The damages appeared overnight, over the course of several days, in different, neighboring gardens.  The residents said that they had never seen anything like this before. It is unlikely that these damages were caused by humans.  All the gardens are fenced in and are right next to the homes.  Each of the houses has at least one dog.  None of the dogs barke in an unusual manner at night.  No other large animal would have been able to get into the garden.

According to Anzor Shogenov and other owners of such trees - his neighbours Aslan Shogenov, Anzor Sakurajev, Abused Dodujev and Khashisul Sakurajev - some dozen trees were hit.  The damages received a lot of attention from the families they affected.  The income from selling fruit is an important source of income for these families.  That is the reason why the trees are so well taken care of.  Anzor Shogenov carefully studied some of the trees and ground after he discovered the damage for clues as to who caused this.  No tracks could be found on the grass-covered ground.  He noticed scratch marks on the bark and the trunks without bark.  On the ground, directly in front of the trunk, he found three hairs, about four centimeters long.  He gave them to a member of the German study group.  They have not yet been investigated. One of his neighbors said that he had observed an almasty at night, who jumped over a courtyard gate.  This happened at the time that the damage was discovered, and it was close to the gardens which were hit.  This observation is the main reason why the residents think the almasty were the cause of this.

 

                

                                                                               *
An Kabardinian informant reported about something that is said to have happened in winter 2005.  A group of hunters was hunting in the Mushta valley on western border of Kabardino-Balkaria with Karachay-Cherkessia, including a foreign hunter, a Greek from Greece. The Greek is said to have been so scared by an almasty in this instance that he became mentally ill. This case will be more closely examined in 2010.

                                                                               *

At the end of September 2009, a local informant in the city of Nalchik, said: He heard from one of his acquaintances that in the summer of 2009 a Kabardinian herdsman was able to photograph an almasty with the camera on his mobile telephone.  The almasty is said to have feed there during the days in his herder’s hut in the mountains.  A few weeks later is it said that a Frenchman appeared, who offered the herder a large sum of money for this photo.  The herdsman turned down this offer.  The name and address of the herdsman could not be determined in 2009.

                                                                                                     *
A new tip about a local with contact to almasty has been found: several Balkarians claim – independently from one another – that a few years ago a villager was rescued from a mountain river by an almasty.  It is said that he has had regular contact with this specimen since then and fed him.  Other Balkarians claim that there was a relationship with a female almasty even before he fell in the river.  Additional details could not be further researched in 2009 and are currently being checked.
              
                                                                                                                       ____________


[1]   For a more detailed description of the development of farming in Kabardino-Balkaria's Zolsk district, see:
       Beyer, H.-M. 2008. Notes on the current field situation of an assumed population of recent non-sapiens hominids in the northern central Caucasus. 
[2]   This drawings, accordng to eyewitness reports from the Caucasus, has been published in Bayanov, Dmitri. 1996. In the footsteps of the
       Russian Snowman.
Moscow: Crypto Logos, p. 36;  Makarov, Vadim. 2002. Atlas of the Snowman. Moscor: Sputnik Company (in Russian),
        p. 183, and  Murphy, Christopher L. 2004. Meet thet Sasquatch. Hanckock House, p. 214.
[3]    Porchnev reports also an encounter in Akbochejko valley. He called it  "Akbétchéiouko".
        Heuvelmans, B.; Porchnev, B. 1974. L' homme de nèanderthal est toujours vivant. Paris: Plon, p. 183.  
[4]    Panchenko, Gregory. 1992. Observation of a relic hominoid in the northern Caucasus. (in French, with a comment by
        M.-J Koffmann,  unpublished) Archiv Dèpartement de Cryptozoologie'Dr Bernard Heuvelmans', Musée Cantonal
        de Zoologie de Lausanne, Switzerland.
[5]    Heuvelmans, B.; Porchnev, B. 1974. L' homme de nèanderthal est toujours vivant. Paris: Plon, p. 224.
[6]    See: Relations between man and "wildman" in the Caucasus: Khabaz Kardanov and his relationship to an Almasty.
[7]    According to M.-J. Koffmann, in the 1960s a tall, thin, male specimen of an Almasty with black
        hair has been seen over several years on mount Dhinal
[ Koffmann, MJ. 1968. The tracks remain. Nauka i Religija. 4, 87-91 (in Russian) ].
[8]    Koffmann, M.-J.1992. L' Almasty, yeti du Caucase. Archeologia, 276, p.56.
[9]    The majority of the local population is very superstitious. Unexplained phenomena were often explained with "Dshinn".
[10]  Bajanov, Dmitri. 1996. In the footsteps of the Russian Snowman. Moscow: Crypto-Logos,  pp. 57-62
[11]  Film Almasty. Yeti du Caucase. Part 3  
[12]   op. cit. (note 10) p. 60.
[13]   op. cit. (note 5)
[14]   op. cit. (note 10), pp. 190 -206.  
[15]   Muaed Malzurgenov, Sarmakovo, personal communication
.
[16]   For more details on possible almasty screams, see:
 Screams of Almasty?

  K. C. Beyer © 2010


April 4, 2011

A previously unknown Almasty observation by Gregory Panchenko in the Northern Caucasus in 1988

In 1992, in the French magazine Archeologia, Dr. Marie-Jeanne Koffmann, main authority of the Caucasus wild man, published a story about an observation by one of her  close co-workers, Gregory Panchenko with a possible Almasty in Kabardino-Balkaria in the Northern Caucasus. [1]  In February, 1992, Dmitri Bayanov also published about this observation in Bigfoot Co-operative.[2]  This observation was also published in his book
In the footsteps of the Russian Snowman
(1996).[3]  According to Bayanov, based on tips from a local, Panchenko spent the night in a stall in the Kuruko valley in Kabardino-Balkaria in August 1991.  There, at night, he observed a possible Almasty for a few minutes.[4]  One year later, a French film team visited this location and a local reported on the happenings.[5]  In his book (1996) Dmitri Bayanov commented on the encounter as follows: „Gregory Panchenko is the second of my colleagues, after Maya Bykova, to have had a close and, what’s more, premeditated encounter with a hominoid.  That is something really new in our research.”[6]  The reader must come to the conclusion that Panchenko was the first and only researcher of the group around Marie-Jeanne Koffmann that had personally observed Almasty in the northern Caucasus after 30 years of fieldwork. In 2007, Panchenko held a lecture in the UK about Almasty in the Caucasus.[7]  After this lecture took place, it was published that Panchenko had had, in total, four encounters with the Almasty.[8]

In 2010, Panchenko was questioned about these four encounters in a letter written by Klaus Kowalski, Germany.  When answering the letter, he explained that even three years before the 1991 encounter mentioned above, he had been able to observe two Almasty in the same region. He wrote:  “In reality, I’ve only been able to see them [Almasty] twice – if the 'almost-encounter' aren’t counted: 1988 and 1991.  It is highly likely that it was the same young individual both times: in 1988 it was about 1.20 meter tall (another Almasty could  seen some distance away, probably the mother, but neither I, nor the colleague from my group who was also present, were able to get a good view) – 1991 it was already 1.70 to 1.75 meters tall.  In 1988, we could tell what color he was (very light, much lighter than the mother, probably a sand or ash color.  Because it was night, it was not easy to see). […] These encounters were both in the same region, where there could not be a second young specimen, based on our knowledge.  All the other stories from the people who live there are drawn from full-grown specimens. For example, the female specimen from 1988, which we assume to be the mother, is known from stories from the 1960s.  At the time, she was still a juvenile.  Regarding the father of the young specimen, we first received descriptions of him in 1993.  He had very light fur and all the other specimens, which had been observed by the natives, had dark fur.  Apparently, he migrated to this area from another location.  Based on the results of the 1986 and 2008 expedition, we can even “calculate” where he came from.  There, at various times, three different light-haired specimens were observed.” [Translation from German] [9]
Panchenko did not give any more details about this encounter. However, from his description one can assume that this observation  was better than in 1991. One must remember, however, the facts that have been known since 2002 which speaks against Bayanov’s claim from 1996  quoted above: The researchers of Koffmann’s fieldwork team could have had repeat observations of the Almasty in the north Caucasus, at the latest, in the early 1970s.[10]  “Close and premeditated” encounters were also included.[11]  A few researchers like Koffmann and Panchenko were able to observe Almasty multiple times.

The claims from Bayanov quoted above also show how many  of the multiple encounters in the Caucasus the western public should know about.  This is characteristic for the majority of Bayanov’s English publications on the field research in the former Soviet Union: from the mass of the Russian field results, only a few, relatively unimportant stories were selected for publication in the West. The unusual field situation, even today, in a few of the regions of the former Soviet Union, which made these results possible, were never explained by him.
In the same 2010 letter to Klaus Kowalski, quoted above, Panchenko gives a possible explanation why the Almasty sightings of Koffmann’s fieldwork team in the northern Caucasus were denied over decades by the Moscow “hominologists”. Panchenko writes, a cryptozoologist “does not have the moral right” to report on an encounter if he cannot prove this encounter, for example, with photos.  Panchenko: “[..] one can only speak of such an encounter amongst ‘professionals’ […] The description of such of an encounter is not very suitable for the public.  Therefore, I am very unhappy that Bayanov published my second meeting.” [Meant is Panchenko’s encounter in 1991]  “I reported on it only in a  closed conference and the information was only intended for a small group of people.” [Translation from German] [12]


kuruko2010


View in the upper Kuruko valley, about 3.5 miles south of the village of Sarmakovo. Here Gregory Panchenko’s observation in 1991 is said to have taken place.  Up until the late 1990s, there were cattle stalls and herder’s huts, which additional attracted the hominids.  The photo gives an impression of the typical character of the valley and its neighboring pasture valleys Khudatojko, Sarmako, and Akbochejko.  These valleys were one of the main field work areas of Marie-Jeanne Koffmann and her coworkers. Many of encounters were documented here and some individuals could be observed here again and again.  It was also possible for members of Koffmann’s team to observe Almasty multiple times here.  Here, night watches were organized regularly, photo traps were installed, and bait was laid out: bread, cheese, syrup. Because of the complete lack of forest here, these valleys offer excellent conditions for observations.  Even currently, locals report Almasty sightings in these valleys, such as the Kabardinian cattle hand Zalavat Makushev in May 2009, for example. [13]



[1]    Koffmann, Marie-Jeanne. 1992.  L‘Almasty du Caucase. Mode de vie d´un hominoide,  Archeologia 276,  p. 62
[2]    Bayanov, Dmitri. 1992. Bigfoot Co-op, February edition.
[3]    Bayanov, Dmitri. 1996. In the footsteps of the Russian Snowman. Moscow: Crypto-Logos. pp. 53-62.  In this report, Bayanov did not say what happened in July and the beginning of            August 1991, directly before Panchenko’s observation: According to Panchenko his colleagues were able to register multiple Almasty obseravtions by locals in the middle and upper            parts of Kuruko valley. There were at least two individuals. One of them was about human hight and had dark fur, and another, very large male individual with silver-gray fur.            Panchenko also shared that according Koffmann at the same time a large female specimen was staying in the Kuruko valley.  (Panchenko, G. 1992. Observation of a relic hominoid in            the Northern Caucasus. Report (in French, with a comment by M.-J. Koffmann,  unpublished) Archiv Dèpartement de Cryptozoologie'Dr Bernard Heuvelmans', Musée Cantonal de            Zoologie de Lausanne, Switzerland.
[4]    Panchenko’s observation in 1991 was also the subject of a talk with the French biologist Benoit Grison in Moscow in 2002, with Dmitri Bayanov, Gregory Panchenko, and Michail            Trachtenherz present, among others.  A part of this talk was broadcast on French TV in 2002.During this talk, Panchenko showed a braid made from horse hair, which might have been            braided by Almasty.
[5]    Film Almasty. Yeti du Caucase. 1992, Part 3.
[6]    op. cit. (note 3) p. 62.
[7]    Panchenko’s lecture The Russian Snowman in the UK in 2007
[8]    Salusbury, Matt. 2007: „Panchenko has seen the creature on four occassions including a hair rising encounter on a remote farm, when he got to within ten feet of the creature.” [...]            http://almasty.blogspot.com
[9]     Panchenko, Gregory. 2010. Letter to Klaus Kowalski. February 24 (in German, unpublished). We are grateful to Klaus Kowalski for sending us Panchenko's letter.
[10]   Makarov, Vadim. 2010. Atlas  of  the Snowman. Moscow: Sputnik. pp.179-180.
[11].  op. cit. (note 10) p. 179.According to the film The Mountains of Mystery (2009), made during a expedition by the Center of Fortean Zoology (UK) to Kabardino-Balkaria  in 2008  Anatoly             Sidorenko, one of M.-J. Koffman’s close coworkers, is said to have seen an Almasty in the early 1980sfrom a hidden place and recognized details of the face: The nose was human             but smaller than that  of a human nose.
[12]   op. cit. (note 9). 
[13] 
  New Investigations in the north-central Caucasus.  A report on selected results from the 2009 fieldwork season.