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MOSCOW, April 30 (Itar-Tass) - Nearly one in four Russians do believe in the UFOs, extra-terrestrial intelligence and the possibility of contacts with civilizations on other planets, as follows from the latest polls by sociologists. It is also quite remarkable belief in matters unknown and irrational is stronger in more successful and advanced individuals. In the meantime travel firms never miss the chance of using people’s interest in abnormal phenomena to the maximum extent. So do the local authorities, which try to lure in visitors by all sorts of promises of “shaking hands with little green men.” They even create special travel sights for this purpose.
Nearly a quarter of Russians (23%) believe humanity may contact extra-terrestrial civilizations in 50 years’ time, as a poll by the Public Opinion Fund (FOM) found recently.
According to the FOM poll 38% of Russians believe in the existence of extra-terrestrial civilizations. The people of Moscow tend to trust UFO stories more than the average Russian (46%, which is eight points above the national average). Men and also well-off people with higher education tend to share this point of view more often than others. Among the active and competent surfers of the world web and middle class representatives who are walking steadily up the career ladder more than half (51%) believe in the existence of intelligent creatures on other planets and the possibility of contacting them.
As sociologists have found out, the lower the education level, the less the person’s faith in extra-terrestrial intelligence. Among those with just high school and elementary education 60% deny the existence of other civilizations, against the country’s average of 53%.
In the meantime, travel companies have long sensed the Russians’ attraction to the irrational is a sure way to make a pretty penny. Their websites are crammed with promises of meetings with the abominable snowman (the Yeti), and “little green men,” of course. Many regions are nearly at war with each other for the right to be called the most abnormal zone in the whole of Russia. Roads are being laid and hotels built close to sites superstitious locals prefer to keep away from. The most active players on the travel industry market believe that itineraries to paranormal sites all over the country are an extremely promising business.
Russia’s most famous UFO preserve has been created in the Perm Territory - the local paranormal zone called the Molyobka Triangle - which is also reputed to be an UFO landing pad.
The zone lies on the left bank of the Sylva River between the villages of Molyobka and Kamenka, on the administrative border of the Sverdlovsk Region and the Perm Territory. Every year it is visited by crowds of Russian and foreign ufologists and students of everything strange and mysterious. UFO experts argue that some very strange things happen there.
The zone is estimated at about 70 square kilometers, while the total area where UFOs and all sorts of anomalies are observed is over 1,000 square kilometers.
Witnesses say that in the Molyobka paranormal zone they saw huge dark figures, balls of light and other objects which demonstrated what looked as rational behavior - they allegedly formed geometrical figures and flew away whenever people tried to approach them.
Theories and versions of what may be behind these phenomena are many - from quite down-to-earth ones (gases escaping from under the surface and taking weird shapes and radiating light) to the most fantastic explanations. Ufologists claim that inside the zone time accelerates, electric batteries of photo-cameras and other electronic devices change polarity and sound hallucinations are frequent. Also, some claim to have had telepathic and visual contacts with “representatives of extra-terrestrial civilizations” and to have seen the River Sylva flow in reverse.
Students and staff of the Perm University in the summer of 1992 explored the zone to declare that some of the events ufologists have described are products of their imagination, while others admit of rational explanations.
However, some mysteries of the Molyobka Triangle have remained unsolved to this day. It remains a major attraction for ever more groups of pilgrims. The old-timers keep visiting it again and again to recall their previous adventures and experience unforgettable experiences once again.
Last year alone the Perm Territory saw an influx of 450,000 tourists. Half of them visited the paranormal zone.
The local authorities have decided to make such trips more civilized and even built a hotel. A special bus takes travelers to the Molyobka Triangle. In the region most people are ready to believe UFOs do exist. According to an opinion poll by local sociologists, one in three in the Perm Territory believes that it is possible to see an UFO in one’s backyard some day.
Some other regions of Russia have decided they are no worse than Perm. The Krasnoyarsk Territory has built tourist facilities in the dense Siberian Taiga forests near the site of the so-called Tunguska Event of 1908. And in the Samara Region the local authorities are contemplating the possibility of creating a tourist area near the Medveditskaya Ridge, where locals claim to have seen flying saucers many a time.
The Samara Region is also quite serious about its plans for opening tourist itineraries including its own paranormal region. One in two residents of the city of Togliatti near the AvtoVAZ automotive giant on the Volga has encountered paranormal phenomena at least once in the lifetime. “Togliatti seems to be a real magnet attracting UFOs. For instance the high-rise administrative building of the OAO AvtoVAZ is said to be attacked by UFOs regularly. This place is believed to be Russia’s most anomalous place in the whole of Russia,” ufologist Tatyana Makarova has told the daily Novyie Izvestia.
The list of regions where UFOs and paranormalities preserves can be created can be prolonged on an on. Tourist companies’ websites invite one and all to admire enigmatic circles on the Kuban wheat fields, visit a Yeti’s cave in Western Altai or walk about ancient labyrinths on the Solovetsky islands. Russia’s researchers have even put together the findings of various expeditions in one encyclopedia of the country’s most unusual sights. To be called paranormal such a sight is to meet a number of strict standards, though.
“The anomaly is to be supported by eyewitness accounts and mentioned in local folklore, as well as identified with special instruments,” says the researcher of extraordinary phenomena Vyacheslav Klimov.
At the same time the expert believes that 80% of the sites known as paranormal are fakes and everything that is said and written about them is just an advertising trick.
Klimov has been approached more than once by various people with a request for putting their village or community of family homes in the countryside on the list of anomalies. Economically this makes sense. Sightseers may start coming in an incessant flow, the price of land soar, souvenir retailers flourish and abandoned hotel businesses re-emerge from ruins.