The Soviet policy of "glasnost" not only allowed free airing in the Soviet media of all kinds of articles and opinions on so-called "anomalous phenomena" but also permitted personal contacts between Western and Soviet researchers in this field. A recent example wasthe participation of two prominent Soviet ufologist--oceanographer Dr. Azhazha and Air Force Dr. Vladimir Azhazha and Air Force test pilot, Col. (Ret) Marina Popovich--in the Space & UFO Symposium held last month in Haukui City, Japan. Another was the recent visit to the United States by geologist Dr. Vladimir Tiurin Avinsky, one of the top Soviet experts on "paleocontact".
The Soviets use this term for the hypothesis of "ancient extraterrestrial contact," what the West knows popularly as "ancient astronauts." But while this theory has for the most part been ignored in Western academic circles, in the Soviet Union it receives at least some official attention. Thus, Avinsky's manuscript, "Planeta Inoplatnetyan" (ETI Planet), which summarizes over 20 years of his research in this area, has a foreword written by pilot-cosmonuat Georgy Grechko and was approved by several academicians, including Dr. V. Troitsky, Head of the SETI section of the Soviet Academy of Sciences Dr. A. Fedorov, well known sci-fi writer Alexander Kazantsev, and others. Avinsky is looking for a U.S. publisher, although his manuscript has not yet. been translated to English. When he heard that with very limited exceptions, like those of archaeologist Zecharia Sitchin and former NASA engineer Joseph Blumrich, paleocontact has not received serious treatment in America. He remarked in aninterview with this columnist that, "this situation pushes me to publish my methodology, in order to acquaint and maybe even sort of influence Americans in the future into that direction."
Avinsky graduated as a mining engineer from the Kuibyshev Politechnical Institute, specializing in oil extraction and transportation. He later received a doctorate in geology andmineralogy and is currently Chief of Automated Systems at the Volzsky Department of the Institute of Geology in Kuibyshev, and a member of the USSR Academy of Sciences. He presented papers on paleocontact at the 1973 Second SETI International Symposium and the 1981 SETI Symposium in Tallinn, Estinia, as well as to the World Congress of the Ancient Astronaut Society in Yugoslavia in 1987 and Chicago in 1989. He has written over 30 scientific articles on geology and many more on various aspects of paleocontact in the Soviet Union and abroad, including essays for two anthologies published Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. I met Dr. Avinsky and interviewed him at length in New York during his recent second trip to the U.S. He told me he had started many years ago examining and collecting samples of cave drawings, stone carvings and petroglyphs from all over the world, and "came to the conclusion that it was not possible that people in those times had such a developed technology--so it must be someone else..." He thus began to do "a systematic scientific analysis" of these samples.
Many of these artifacts from Algeria, Australia and elsewhere have been published before. Many others discovered in the Soviet territory, however, are virtually unknown in the West These include "rocket-like images" from the Tretjakov Gallery, 2,000 year-old ivory "winged objects" from Chukotka, a series of neolithic drawings from the Urals, and other artifacts. Avinsky said one of his main influences -- "the keystone of my work," as he put it -- was a series of essays on cosmic philosophy by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935), the Russian pioneer in astronautics and one of the fathers of the space age who is credited with being the first to propose -- in the 1880s -- the theoretical basis for a multi-stage interplanetary rocket. He also advocated, in scientific articles migration of humanity into outer space. Yet few, if any, biographical references on Tsiolkovsky was one of the leading exponents of the intellectual school known as "Russian Cosmism," which swept the Soviet authorities saw cosmic philosophy as a threat to Marxism-Leninism and so eulogized only Tsiolkovsky's technical discoveries and contributions to astronautics. "Tsiolkovsky' said ... not all anomalous occurrences could be explained by means of psychiatry, psychology and other types of human reasoning -- that they could be the result of Cosmic interferences in the internal affairs of the Earth," Avinsky said.
Back in the 1920s Tsiolkovsky wrote that the "mass of inexplicable phenomena" was not all illusion, "but real proof of the presence of unknown intelligent forces in outer space." Asked whether there could be a link between ancient occurrences and modern UFO encounters, which he also investigated in Kuibyshev in the Volga area, he said "I think that may be too premature. What I do is compare all these phenomena to each other and try to reach a conclusion. That investigation helped me build a model of cosmic contact. Indeed, I do compare the ancient and the contemporary.
Without such a comparison it would be difficult to understand the ancient times and the present, so I look as it as one whole -- that for many years we observed anomalous occurrences and not only in recent times."
Avinsky acknowledged that despite "violent democratic changes" taking place in the Soviet Union "where they are kicking out all kinds of dogmas," it is not easy for official science to accept the hypothesis proposed by him and other colleagues. Official science is composed of "very conservative people everywhere," he said, and "even if some prominent scientists do understand the importance of all these occurrences and so on, it is still difficult for them to get rid of their habits." However, he added, "the time will come for the reevaluation of human history, and that is one of my main tasks, just to reconcile human history -- a reevaluation of history in terms of the cosmic origins of humanity."
Avinsky is perhaps best known in the West from his article, "Pyramids on Mars?," in a Soviet popular geographic anthology in 1983 and re-published and translated by Soviet Life in August 1984.
The article analyzed the mysterious "Sphinx" and alleged pyramids in the Martian plains of Cydonia, totally independent from the research of Gregory Molenaar, Vincent DiPietro and other U.S. scientist. Although he wrote that these formations "resembled an urban landscape of monstrous proportions," he had not heard at the time of Richard Hoagland and his book, The Monuments of Mars, which came to roughly the same conclusions.
Avinsky was exposed to U.S. research on Cydonia when he attended the 1989 Ancient Astronauts Society's World Congress in Chicago. His findings and those of others will be discussed in a future column.
Avinsky had another goal in his recent U.S. tour. He wants to integrate Soviet and U.S. research in this field with the publication of an annual Soviet-American Almanac on ancient and modern UFOs. He also wants to arrange for the distribution of two Soviet documentary films about ancient and contemporary UFOs and to market some of his discoveries on "alpha-metrics and alphapentastructures of nature," which he said can be used "in geology, biology, physics, engineering, architecture, and the arts.
"I am very satisfied with the first initial contact between U.S. and Soviet researchers and I hope that it will be conducive," Avinsky said at the end of our interview, "that in the future there will be very good cooperation because there is too much work to be done." And he added with a smile, "the Americans are businessmen, we [Soviets] are learning business and it will be best for everybody."