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10 Strange Tales Of Russian Paranormal Phenomena

Pauli Poisuo

In one form or another, Russia has existed since time immemorial. This continent-spanning country holds a cornucopia of paranormal stories, many of which are almost completely unknown to people from different cultures. Yet, the stories of its monsters, ghosts, and aliens are just as diverse as the ones Western readers are familiar with.

So come, hear the creepy stories of one of the strangest countries on Earth.

10 Cosmonauts And UFOs

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Cosmonauts are notoriously brave people. Not only did they manage to win the Space Race, they did it with crafts that were essentially held together with chewing gum and hope. So when a Soviet space veteran lowers his voice and starts whispering about the strange and scary things he saw up there, it pays to listen.

Throughout the years, numerous cosmonauts have reportedly told stories about close encounters with unidentified flying objects. Vladimir Kovalyonok, a veteran of the Saljut VI mission in 1981, claims he saw an elliptical object that followed their craft for a while. It disappeared in a beautiful “explosion,” only to reappear in a different place with another one just like it. The MIR space station has also been a popular UFO sighting spot, as at least two of its crews have witnessed inexplicable objects. The UFOs aren’t content with just hounding the cosmonauts in space, either—the Baikonur Cosmodrome (the world’s largest operational space launch facility in Kazakhstan) is also said to attract strange visitors every once in a while.

Of course, it’s worth remembering most of these tales come from conspiracy theorist websites and other fairly biased sources. On the other hand, would any “trustworthy” media ever release such information in notoriously censorship-heavy Russia?

9 The Blazing Orb Of Chelyabinsk

In February 2013, a meteor streaked over the town of Chelyabinsk, glowing with the intensity of 30 suns and eventually exploding in the air in the largest airburst since 1908’s famous Tunguska Event. It hospitalized over 1,200 people and received worldwide interest. Not only was it an extremely strange phenomenon, but no one had seen it coming. This is truly frightening because it means such an incident could happen anywhere, any time, and with no warning whatsoever.

However, some Chelyabinsk citizens are less concerned about the destructive meteor and more about the things it might have attracted to their city. A few weeks after the incident, the town was still licking its wounds when it witnessed a seemingly impossible phenomenon—a giant, bright orb that hovered over the night sky. The night before, an eerie, glowing fog encompassed a part of the area.

These two inexplicable phenomena—that we know of—happening shortly after the meteor fell is hard to brush away as coincidence, especially as both events have numerous eyewitnesses and even photographic evidence. Then again, even UFO enthusiasts note that the area was full of ice fog at the time, so there is a chance at least part of these events could be caused by reflections from the city lights.

8 The Sakhalin Creature

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Photo credit: English Russia

The Sakhalin creature was found by Russian soldiers on the Eastern coastline of the country. It was a terrifying, decomposed carcass of a large aquatic monster that was clearly not a fish, yet didn’t resemble an alligator or a crocodile. Its remaining skin showed clear signs of hair, and its build made it seem like a long-extinct beast like an aquatic dinosaur. Sadly, this mysterious relic was reportedly taken in by the military, so civilian scientists never had a chance to research it.

Of course, they didn’t really need to. The Sakhalin creature is pretty clearly the skeleton of a large beluga whale that had washed up on an empty shore long before the soldiers stumbled upon it. The “fur” that makes it seem so alien is likely nothing more than the remains of its decomposing flesh. Even so, pictures of this “prehistoric monster” still occasionally emerge online.

7 Rusalka Week

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A Rusalka is the Slavic version of a succubus, a female demon that preys on the men it seduces. The Rusalka also have elements of ghosts and mermaids: They are often described as “fish women,” and are created when a jilted woman (or a child) dies violently. The Rusalka have many ways of causing mayhem—they drown the men they seduce, frighten the cattle, and even steal children. However, they are also believed to have some control over fertility, which makes them important figures in rural areas.

The Rusalka are believed to be at their most active during the first week of June, which is commonly known as Rusalka Week or Rusal’naia Week. Traditionally, this is a week of both celebration and fear. The classic Rusalka Week ritual consists of making effigies of the Rusalka and destroying them, then appeasing the spirits with offerings and music. Throughout the week, women protect themselves against the Rusalka by leaving their hair unwashed, whereas men decorate themselves with garlic and walnuts.

For obvious reasons, swimming is advised against during Rusalka Week.

6 The Russian Roswell

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As a top secret Soviet missile base, Kapustin Yar always had a reputation as a place where mysterious things happened and unidentified flying objects were often seen.

However, some say not all of these UFOS were man-made.

In 1948, a year after the Roswell incident, a genuine alien craft allegedly attacked an investigating MIG fighter. By sheer luck, the pilot managed to shoot the UFO with one of its missiles, and the ship came crashing down. Its remains were taken by the military and moved to an underground facility deep below Kapustin Yar. There, the ship was reverse-engineered by Soviet rocket scientists, possibly for the benefit of the Soviet space program—which, incidentally, took off soon afterwards.

The story’s similarity to the Roswell case and the fact that it happened just a year after its more famous American counterpart naturally cast a shadow of doubt. Still, it’s not the only UFO related rumor about the place. In 1991, a declassified KGB document apparently revealed that the area had been visited by aliens as late as 1989. This time, the visiting spaceship wasn’t shot down, but instead hovered around the area for two hours, occasionally emitting a bright beam to the ground. According to the document, this visitation was witnessed by several military officers. Maybe it was looking for its fallen friend?

5 Nina Kulagina

Ninel Sergeyevna Kulagina, better known to the world as Nina, was a tank radio sergeant who was injured in the latter stages of World War II, retired from the battlefield, and started a family. It was at this point that she started displaying psychic powers. From the 1960s to her death in 1990, Kulagina became well-known for her many paranormal skills. She was said to be able to heal people, see colors with her fingers, and tell people what they had in their pockets. However, her most powerful and famous skill was her psychokinesis—the ability to move objects with her mind.

Kulagina’s psychokinetic abilities were tested numerous times, yet scientists were never able to expose her as fraud. She was incredibly precise with her talent—one experiment had her successfully separating an egg yolk from its white and move them to the opposite ends of the tank they were floating in. Another saw her stopping the heart of a frog with her willpower alone. Luckily, Kulagina was never able to manipulate heavier objects—such as, say, human hearts—because using the powers caused her extreme physical discomfort.

Although she was never caught cheating, not everyone believes Kulagina was the genuine article. Many suspect that she used sleight of hand and other magic trick techniques to pull off her many tricks, while others claim the Soviet Union fabricated the whole thing in order to make Americans nervous. It was the Cold War, after all—what would be scarier than knowing that the enemy country has citizens with superpowers?

4 The Brosno Dragon

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Lake Brosno is the deepest freshwater lake in Europe. As such, it holds many mysteries—none of which is scarier than the Brosno Dragon, Russia’s answer to the Loch Ness Monster. The lake’s history is full of monster sightings. The descriptions of the creatures differ wildly, but they’re all generally thought to be the Dragon. As early as the eighth century, Tatar and Mongol invaders stopped by the lake and were supposedly consumed by the Dragon. Other stories tell of a large “sand island” that occasionally rose in the middle of the lake, then disappeared. Others still claim that the Dragon was large enough to actually eat islands.

The modern incarnation of the Dragon is said to be a glowing, 5-meter (16 ft) monster that closely resembles a classic fantasy literature dragon and has been witnessed by many locals. Although its authenticity is debated, many agree that there is something extremely strange in Lake Brosno.

3 Space Troops

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Russia is fairly familiar with conflicts, and as such the country likes to be prepared for outside threat. Any outside threat.

The Aerospace Defense Troops are the Russian military branch that specializes in space combat. This doesn’t mean they spend their time zipping around the International Space Station in their starfighters. (As far as we know.) Instead, they mostly operate military satellites and the country’s missile defense system. Even so, space is their jurisdiction, and as such, they acknowledge that the country’s defense is up to them in the event of an alien attack. In fact, they are almost universally known as the “Space Troops.”

Sadly, they’re not exactly up to the task. When Sergey Berezhnoy, the deputy chief of the Space Troops, was questioned whether they could take on an alien invasion, he flatly stated that they don’t have what it takes. Let’s hope that no aliens happened to overhear him.

2 The Ghosts Of The Kremlin

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Few places in Russia have a more layered history than the Kremlin—Moscow’s giant, fortified government district. It has seen more than its share of deceit and death. As such, the complex has quite a few ghosts roaming its corridors and alleyways.

Since the Kremlin has been a place of power for centuries, many of its ghosts are famous. Ivan the Terrible, a particularly cruel 16th-century ruler, is said to mourn his many sins in the Great Bell Tower, his footsteps clearly audible to those who dare to listen. Some say he visited Tsar Nikolay II—Russia’s last tsar, who was killed by the communists—right before the latter’s coronation as a bad omen. Another famous ghost of the Kremlin is none other than Lenin, whose ghost was already haunting the premises a good three months before he actually died.

The most famous specter stalking the Kremlin is, perhaps unsurprisingly, that of Joseph Stalin. Even in death, the ruthless dictator is said to manifest in times of crisis, as if to order the current rulers to return order by any means necessary. According to legend, Stalin’s restless spirit is present whenever a room in the Kremlin suddenly goes cold.

1 The Black Bird Of Chernobyl

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Photo credit: Phantoms and Monsters

One of the most famous paranormal creatures in the United States is Mothman. It was a mysterious harbinger of destruction that haunted Point Pleasant, West Virginia right before the town’s Silver Bridge tragically collapsed, claiming 46 lives. Still, Mothman was a complete amateur compared to its Russian cousin—or perhaps they were the same creature, and Point Pleasant was just practice.

The Black Bird didn’t bother with mere bridges and traffic accidents. It went straight for the worst nuclear catastrophe in human history: the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. The legend of the Black Bird is eerily similar to Mothman’s supposed antics in Point Pleasant. Much like Mothman, it was a large, dark figure with wings and piercing red eyes. Many people reportedly encountered it in the days leading to the incident. Those who came across it often received mysterious phone calls and had terrible nightmares.

When Chernobyl’s reactor finally exploded on April 26, the pilots and rescue workers who survived the flames told frightful stories about a huge black figure flying from the destroyed reactor, circling among the black plumes rising from it. The Black Bird had finally claimed its victims, and would never be seen again.

Well, that, or the whole story might just be made up by someone who was startled by a large stork after a long night out, much like some suspect Mothman was. We will probably never know.

+ The Hell Screams

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Photo credit: Scary For Kids

We’ve talked about it before, but it’s impossible to leave it off a list like this. In 1984, Soviet geologists undertook a monumental task in Siberia. They drilled a massive, 14.4-kilometer (9 mi) hole in Earth’s crust, because sometimes geology is boring in every sense of the word. The original intent of this experiment was to create an experimental well, but the researchers got more than they bargained for when they found out that the depths of the pit carried the screams of Hell itself.

The pit opened into a hellish temperature of 1093° Celsius (2000° F), a scorching heat where nothing could possibly live. Still, agonizing, terrified screams could be heard from the depths. The leader of the project, Dr. Azzacov, was initially skeptical about the sounds, but eventually was convinced that they had indeed accidentally opened a portal to hell. His decision was probably helped with the massive, bat-winged spectral figure that arose from the pit on the first night after the sounds started and painted the words “I have conquered” in Russian, using the night sky as its canvas.

Well, that’s the story, anyway. In reality, the “pit” was a perfectly ordinary borehole on the Kola Peninsula, and the temperatures encountered never exceeded 82° Celsius (180° F). Somewhere down the line, some rather disreputable news media came up with a neat—yet completely fabricated—story about a “well to hell” and decided to add a touch of credibility by placing the story on a real drilling site.

Pauli Poisuo also writes for Cracked.com. Why not follow him on Twitter?