6 September 2019


Nick Redfern, Flying Saucers from the Kremlin. Lisa Hagen Books 2019.

With a title like this, you could be forgiven for thinking this was a book about UFO sightings from Russia and the former Soviet Union, following Ion Hobana's and Julien Weberbergh's 1972 UFO's from behind the Iron Curtain. But the book isn't about that. Subtitled 'UFOs, Russian Meddling, Soviet Spies and Cold War Secrets', the book is an attempt to show that the Russians have been manipulating the UFO phenomenon and its witnesses since the days of the Contactees right up to the present.
Redfern believes that the phenomenon is genuine, but considers that some of the accounts of sightings and encounters have been deliberately faked by the Russians to undermine US and western society. This is set out in the introduction, which claims that the Russians must be doing so, because they meddled in the 2017 American elections. It states that the Russians are not Americans' friends, nor their buddies, and are a threat to their way of life. But this view is flawed on several counts.

Firstly, it doesn't quite show that the Russians have been using UFOs to spread disinformation and black propaganda. There are no Kremlin documents cited or statements from former Soviet agents, who have come forward, to show this. What there is, is plentiful evidence that the American espionage agencies and the FBI have been concerned that the Russians have been doing this. Thus, in 1952 the Assistant Director of the CIA, H. Marshall Cladwell, contacted the NSA about setting up a body to research and identify UFOs, leading to the foundation of the Robertson Panel. This secret organisation was not interested in UFOs as a possible extraterrestrial phenomenon, only in its use by Soviet intelligence.

The FBI also set up a working group under the Defense Intelligence Agency to investigate the Majestic 12 papers, after being contacted about them by that incorrigible skeptibunker, Phil Klass. Richard L. Huff, the Bureau Co-Director in the Office of Information and Privacy, revealed that the FBI also had a main file on the MJ-12 papers marked 'espionage'. And there's tantalising evidence that the British secret services also believe the Russians are using the phenomenon for espionage purpose. This comes from information uncovered by the investigative reporter, Glenn Greenwald, that a powerpoint presentation at GCHQ in Britain on how covert agents infiltrate the Net contained photos of UFOs. Unfortunately, further information on the presentation is not available, so it's unknown how much the British secret services know about this.

Secondly, this largely ignores the massive interference America has done in other nations' politics around the world from the Cold War onward. That long-term critic of American imperialism, William Blum, dedicated two whole chapters of his book Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, to listing the various coups and interference in other nations' elections country by country. Other critics have argued that the 2012 election in Ukraine, which ousted their former pro-Russian leader, was very carefully orchestrated by Hillary Clinton's State Department under Victoria Nuland, and the National Endowment for Democracy.

It has been argued by critics of US foreign policy towards Russia that, Putin, while domestically extremely authoritarian and dictatorial, is sincere in his belief in a multi-polar world. His foreign policy, in their eyes, is essentially defensive. There are also other grounds for questioning whether Russia now is still a threat to the American way of life. It certainly was under Communism up until Glasnost in the 1980s, particularly under Stalin. And the Russians were capable of covert operations against American state officials, as shown by the 1966 microwave attack on the American embassy in Moscow.

But Putin's Russia is a Christian, capitalist nation. In many ways it's similar to America, or at least the American right-wing ideal. It's extremely nationalistic, and the dominant Christian denomination is Russian Orthodoxy rather than Southern Baptist. But it is definitely no longer Communist or aggressively atheist, as the prosecution of Pussy Riot for invading a Moscow cathedral to perform a song insulting Putin showed.

Thirdly, the Americans themselves have been more than willing to exploit the paranormal for covert purposes. The Project Grudge Technical Report discussed using fake UFOs for psychological warfare against the Russians. The Rand Corporation also produced a document on the exploitation of superstitions. Redfern further suggests that the similarity of a wartime robot created by the British stage magician Neville Maskelyne to terrify the Fascists in Sicily to that of the Flatwoods monster indicates that it was a similar faked apparition.

This is the territory explored by Mark Pilkington in The Mirage Men: An Adventure into Paranoia, Espionage, Psychological Warfare and UFOs, which Redfern refers to later in the book. Redfern's book also claims that the Serpo documents were another CIA hoax. These purport to describe a programme by which twelve American servicemen and women traveled to the alien homeworld. Instead, it is argued that the documents were forged by the late American SF writers, James Tiptree Jnr.

Most of the book is about the American, British and Australian police and intelligence services keeping an eye on leading ufologists, investigators and contactees, who were suspected of Communist sympathies. The old fraud George Adamski was under investigation because he was reported to have made pro-Russian, pro-Communist statements, as well being seen talking to a group of Russians about Communism in Los Angeles.

Orfeo Angelucci [left] told the FBI he was met several times by a group of four men, who wanted him to make his lecturers more pro-Communist. He patriotically refused, but was nevertheless intensively questioned about his patriotism after having taken some kind of drug by 'Adam'. He was supposed to be another investigator. The incident, however, is similar to an interrogation the expatriate American artist Glickman was given in a Paris bar. Which suggests that both were actually operations by the American secret services trying out the techniques of MK Ultra and its use of drugs in espionage and interrogation.

Truman Betherum received death threats from an angry group of American patriots, who thought that his alien contact, Aura Rhanes, was not an emissary from the stars but another Communist agent. Over in Britain George King, the head of the Aetherius Society, was investigated by Special Branch after channeling a message from Venus that said that Britain should respond to the Russian peace overtures. Oh, and they also took part in the Aldermaston marches against nuclear weapons by CND.

It's at this point in the book that Redfern repeats the libel that Michael Foot, also a member of CND and another participant in the marches, was a KGB agent. This is based on the accusation of Soviet defector Oleg Gordievsky. Redfern acknowledges that Foot sued for libel against the Sunday Times, which published the smear, and won. But he still believes it's true, because Gordievsky was right about everything else. Private Eye and the a number of left-wing websites have attacked this smear. Gordievsky himself confessed to being a liar.

Foot was a determined critic of the lack of free speech in the USSR, and the Sunday Times was a known conduit for disinformation from the IRD. This was a British intelligence organisation which specialised in black propaganda, including smears against Labour politicians linking them to the IRA or Communist powers. The accusation that Foot was a KGB spy therefore seems to be a piece of British covert disinformation, rather than proof of real treason.

Other UFO investigators were targeted for investigation and worse because it was feared that their researches would turn over genuine military secrets to the Russians. This included the American physicist Paul Bennewitz and his obsession with crashed UFOs and aliens at Kirtland Air Force Base, and the Australian airforce pilot and UFO witness, Peter Royal. Sometimes it appears that the Russians, if they were involved at all, were using scams and hoaxes set up by others. The book identifies the author of the UMMO hoax as the Spanish scientist, Jose Luis Jordan Pena, who wanted to investigate the incidence of paranoia in Franco's Spain. But some of the cosmic information in the UMMO communications seem to have come from the private notes of Russian nuclear scientist and dissident, Andrei Sakharov. This seems to indicate Russian involvement.

The book also claims that the 'Falcon', who contacted Bill Moore offering American government UFO secrets, may have actually been two men. One, a named American officer, and the other an anonymous Soviet agent. It is also argued that the MJ12 papers that appeared in the 1990s were a Russian plant, because they state that the AIDS virus, or something like it, was developed by the Americans from alien bodies recovered at Roswell. There was also another story found among the late Bill Moore's papers claiming that the object that crashed at Roswell was really a V2 stuffed with radium, other radioactive materials and bio-warfare agents developed by I.G. Farben, the German company that produced the cyanide gas for the Nazi death camps. These seem to be attempts to revive the old KGB smear that AIDS was created as a bio-weapon by the Americans at Fort Detrick.

On the other side of the political fence is yet another story about the Roswell crash told by an employee of an American construction firm with defence contracts.. This time the crash was a failed Russian attempt to fake a UFO encounter, using adapted Horten tailless planes from Nazi Germany and dwarf children experimented on by the Nazi doctor, Mengele. Stalin was nasty enough to wish to create human-chimp hybrids in the 1920s as soldiers for the Red Army, but there's no evidence the millions of poor souls incarcerated, tortured and murdered in his Gulags were experimented upon. Mengele himself died in South America. If he had really been captured by the Soviets, I doubt he'd have left Russia alive.

The book also claims that the MJ12 papers were also a Russian hoax, because the talkative EBE attacks America for its maltreatment of Blacks and indigenous peoples, as well as religion. It also cites a passage in Bukharin's and Preobrazhensky's The ABC of Communism, to show how aggressively atheist Soviet Communism was. The alien also talks about how his people landed 7,000 years ago in the area that used to be Yugoslavia to help the people there develop civilisation. This, it is argued, also shows that it must be a Russian hoax, because Yugoslavia was a Communist, eastern European country. The inclusion of prehistoric Yugoslavia seems to be a reference to Lepenski Vir, a Mesolithic settlement in the Iron Gorges region, which is one of the key sites showing the spread of the very beginnings of settled villages in Europe.

But while Yugoslavia was a Communist country, it was not aligned with Russia or the Communist bloc. Tito broke with Stalin in the late '40s and very early '50s in opposition to Soviet attempts to Russify his country. It also ignores the atheism of some strains of western Ufology. Erich von Daniken's claims of ancient aliens were controversial, particularly in his native Switzerland, because he claimed that the God of Christians and Jews, as well as the deities of other religions, was really a garbled memory of extraterrestrial visitors. And the Raelians are an atheist organisation. A decade or so ago they tried to join the wave of New Atheist activism by taking part in an atheist women's rights march. That part of the '90s MJ12 papers could therefore have been cooked up by an atheist Yugoslav hoaxer, or an American of Yugoslav origin, rather than a Russian Communist.

The book is a fascinating account of the American state's fears that the UFO phenomenon was being used by the Russians for psychological warfare, and its attempts, real and suggested, to do the same. In the case of George Adamski, the suspicions of Communist sympathies appear well founded. And some other investigators too may very well have had the same sympathies and possibly were working for the Russians. Others, like Bethurum and King, whether you believe their tales of alien contact and interplanetary brotherhood or not, almost certainly weren't. They were targeted simply for pleading for a peaceful, better world against the spectre of nuclear Armageddon.

As for the Russians, the evidence presented here is entirely circumstantial. Some of it is highly suggestive, others much less so. And with some of the various military characters, who have come forward to dangle spurious information about secret alien bases, crashed UFOs and alien bodies, others have argued in the pages of Magonia over the years that they may not have been members of any secret conspiracy except their own. Rather than doing it on behalf of the American secret state, they could have been simply the usual fantasists and yarnspinners, doing it simply for their own amusement.

Until more information about the world's intelligence services' use of the UFO myth and particularly that of the Russians, comes out, we'll never really know. 
  • David Sivier.

No comments: