One of the most interesting cases in the KGB file is a multiple-witness CE-I (Close Encounter of the First Kind) at an army missile base in the district of Kapustin Yar, Astrakhan Region, on the night of July 28-29, 1989. The file is surely incomplete, but still offers an interesting glimpse into the maneuverability of UFOs. The dossier consists of the depositions of seven military witnesses (two junior officers, a corporal and four privates) plus illustrations of the object by the observers, and a brief case summary by an unnamed KGB officer. (Neither the author nor the department are identified, but the document is at the beginning of the KGB file on the Kapustin Yar incident). It states in part:
"Military personnel of the signal center observed UFOs in the period from 22:12 hrs. to 23:55 hrs. on 28 July 1989. According to the witnesses' reports, they observed three objects simultaneously, at a distance of 3-5 km. [2-3 mi.]."
A nearby base reported the UFO from 23.30 hrs. on July 28 until 1.30 hrs. on July 29. The report continues:
"After questioning the witnesses, it was determined that the reported characteristics of the observed UFOs are: disc 4-5 m. [13-17 ft.] diameter, with a half-sphere on top, which is lit brightly. It moved sometimes abruptly, but noiselessly, at times coming down and hovering over ground at an altitude of 20-60 m. [65-200 ft.]. The command of [censored] called for a fighter... but it was not able to see it in detail, because the UFO did not let the aircraft come near it, evading it. Atmospheric conditions were suitable for visual observations."
The KGB file on the case is obviously incomplete, since there is no data on the jet scramble mission or whether ground or airborne radar detection was also reported. Nevertheless, the hand written descriptions by the seven witnesses from the signal center do provide interesting reading about the flight behavior exhibited by the UFOs. The most detailed communication was submitted by the Officer-on-Duty, Ensign Valery N. Voloshin. A Captain from the telegraph center informed him at 23:20 hrs. that "an unidentified flying object, which he called a flying saucer, was hovering over the military unit for over an hour." After confirming the sighting with the operation signal officer on duty, Ensign Voloshin and Private Tishchayev climbed the first part of an antenna tower. According to his deposition:
"One could clearly see a powerful blinking signal which resembled a camera flash in the night sky. The object flew over the unit's logistics yard and moved in the direction of the rocket weapons depot, 300 meters [1,000 ft.] away. It hovered over the depot at a height of 20 meters [65 ft.]. The UFO's hull shone with a dim green light which looked like phosphorous. It was a disc, 4 or 5 m. [13-17 ft.] in diameter, with a semispherical top.
"While the object was hovering over the depot, a bright beam appeared from the bottom of the disc, where the flash had been before, and made two or three circles, lighting the corner of one of the buildings... The movement of the beam lasted for several seconds, then the beam disappeared and the object, still flashing, moved in the direction of the railway station. After that, I observed the object hovering over the logistics yard, railway station and cement factory. Then it returned to the rocket weapons depot, and hovered over it at an altitude of 60-70 m. [200-240 ft.]. The object was observed from that time on, by the first guard-shift and its commander. At 1:30 hrs., the object flew in the direction of the city of Akhtubinsk and disappeared from sight. The flashes on the object were not periodical, I observed all this for exactly two hours: from 23:30 to 1:30."
In 1989, at a military base and suspected underground facility near the nuclear test site of Kapustin Yar, members of two army units noticed a UFO which hovered for hours over the arsenal of the base. The KGB files contained the handwritten reports of the sighting. It flew over the stores of the unit and moved in the direction of the missile arsenal. When it hovered over the arsenal, a bright ray appeared on its underside.
Very little was known about UFO investigations in Russia and the republics of the former USSR during the communist era. UFOs were officially labeled "capitalist propaganda" in the 1950s and 1960s. A few scientists such as Professor Felix Zigel and Yuri Fomin documented UFO incidents, but their results were rarely published and circulated mostly in samizdat form. Ufology began to prosper in the early 1980s when "Commissions on Anomalous Phenomena" were established under the patronage of a few academicians.
Stories of secret military UFO investigations began to spread with glasnost, increasing with the break-up of the USSR. Retired military and intelligence officers were now speaking up and offering documents. One collection, covering a 10-year period of military UFO investigations between 1978 and 1988, was sold by its former director, Colonel Boris Sokolov, to American journalist George Knapp and to ABC News. In 1991, the Committee of State Security (KGB) declassified 124 pages of documents of "Cases of Observations of Anomalous Occurrences in the Territory of the USSR, 1982-1990," covering a total of 17 regions.