Russian Pilot-Cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov and UFOS
By Philip Mantle and Paul Stonehill
(Posted with permission)
US Intelligence Report
In this article, we will attempt to find out Pilot-Cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov’s true opinion about UFOs; and, regardless of his true UFO reality beliefs, reveal some information previously unavailable in the West information about this distinguished, brave, talented, intelligent, and very complicated human being, one of the first Soviet cosmonauts, one of the last remaining original Russian space explorers.
Our research of Pilot-Cosmonaut Aleksei Arkhipovich Leonov and his views about unidentified flying objects begins with a declassified report from the Department of Defense Intelligence of the United States of America. The report number is 2 723 1209 70, the date is August 19, 1970.
The information contained in the report dates back to May 18, 1970. The subject is Soviet Space Development, and the country in question is Japan. There, in Yokogama, in the Tokai University in Kanagawa Prefecture, a distinguished Soviet cosmonaut Leonov was giving a lecture at the Shohan Annex. The cosmonaut talked about Soviet experiences in space; and future plans of the USSR regarding space exploration (including a mammoth space station, which the USSR planned to put into orbit). Leonov also expressed disbelief in UFOs.
Leonov talked about several subjects that day. One had to do with improvement of the Soviet space capsule brake equipment. The other was the confirmation of Soviet Moon data by U.S. astronauts. This confirmation interested American military intelligence, and we think we know the reason: like the CIA, they heard about early (and classified) Soviet attempts to reach the Moon. By the way, it is quite likely that Leonov was instructed to misinform people in the West about UFO sightings in the USSR. Two years before Leonov’s speech in Japan, an organized attempt by Soviet scientists and military researchers to conduct UFO research independently (via television broadcasts and other means) was ruthlessly crushed. UFOs continued to remain a taboo subject in the Soviet Union.
This fascinating episode of Soviet UFO research history (unparalleled elsewhere in the world) is described in Mysterious Sky: Soviet UFO Phenomenon.
We believe that even back in 1970, Leonov had to know about UFO sightings reported by other cosmonauts. He really does not deny any such reports.
Here is what Leonov revealed to the Japanese about Soviet exploration of the Moon:
The Soviet Union has a well-coordinated program for travel to the Moon and has compiled complete and detailed data concerning conditions on the Moon through its Moon station. It has photographs of the Moon’s dark side and complete data on the make-up and characteristics of its surface, the Moon’s gravity field, etc. “The US astronauts who landed on the Moon only confirmed what we already knew.” he said.
Then, Leonov addressed the Japanese audience on the subject of UFOs. The speaker said he does not believe in the existence of unidentified flying objects. Why, he asked, would the flying saucers, if they do exist, be seen only over the United States, France and Italy? He said there is no record of any of the Soviet observatories, which are manned by highly trained technicians, ever having seen a flying saucer.
The source of the information of the DIA for the report was a Japanese government agency official.
Was this is a crude but intentional misinformation attempt? A well-placed functionary of the Soviet space program, Leonov knew what was really happening at the observatories. Or was he simply following the orders?
Fascinating is the extent to which the Soviets went to hide the facts that the astronomers did see UFOs. Mysterious Sky: Soviet UFO Phenomenon (latest book by Mantle & Stonehill) has a chapter that lists UFO reports and observations by Soviet astronomers, scientists that have received top training in their field. Some of their observations had been published in the Soviet media, in the 1960s, well before Leonov embarked to Japan. Yet, the Soviet newspaper PRAVDA stated on February 29, 1968, that astronomers who carefully observe the sky day and night, never see "flying saucers". Both the cosmonaut and the newspaper concealed the true state of affairs; but the history of Soviet UFO phenomenon research proves that UFOs were of interest to astronomers, and UFO observations had been reported by astronomers of the Soviet Union.
Thirty Years Later: Leonov’s Interviews, Oaths, and Revelations
On March 23, 2005, fourteen years after the USSR had disintegrated Leonov was interviewed by a Russian publication Drugoye Vremya (RIAN Agency). The press-conference was in honor of the 40th anniversary of his space walk. He said that all Earthlings very much want that there be someone except us, but alas, in the confines of the Solar System, there is no intelligent life (he really meant other than human beings-PM/PS). And Leonov added: “I declare it with full responsibility”. Leonov went on:
“As a military person, I headed a commission for the research of unusual space phenomena, and I swear to you, not even one occurrence had been established by us”. Leonov said that the unusual objects observed from the Earth, as a rule, had to do either with special meteorological phenomena or rocket launches of spacecraft as their exhausts had taken extremely peculiar shapes in the upper layers of the atmosphere. (Rockets launch spacecraft carrying cosmonauts and astronauts that orbit Earth and travel into space. These rockets, like the ones used to launch probes and satellites, are called by NASA launch vehicles. In Russian, they are called kosmicheskiye raketi-PM/PS). “Crosses with gigantic rings around them, especially in the clear wintry weather, could be observed for an extended period of time in the area of the Plesetsk Cosmodrome (space launch facility PM/PS), in the Saratov region, and over Baikonur after the launch of the Soyuz launch vehicles. Many people saw them, and took the rings to be UFOs; retold to each other, and thus legends were born”, clarified the cosmonaut. Leonov had other arguments, too. “Till now, nowhere in the world has there been taken even one clear photograph, where one could look at, and unambiguously assert that, yes, this is a UFO. Why are there no such photographs now, when almost everyone has a photo camera in their mobile telephone?”
This was, as far as we could establish, the first time that Pilot-Cosmonaut Leonov mentioned the “commission “(also referred to as “committee” elsewhere) he had headed. This commission had investigated UFOs. As far as we can determine, the commission was not with the SETKA program (top secret official Soviet joint military and academic project for the research of UFOs. The program is described in Paul Stonehill and Philip Mantle’s article:
Setka: A Secret Soviet UFO Research Program
Dawn of the Secret Programme
What commission did Leonov head? Where are its findings? What cases have been investigated?
Next, Leonov was interviewed by Russian magazine Biznes (issue 25, June 19, 2006). We will translate Leonov’s statements as closely as possible; every word, we believe, had been carefully chosen. He stated that for a long time he had headed a committee that had followed unidentified objects. Leonov said that he is certain: in the Solar system, there is no intelligent life other than the one on Earth. There may be life at the level of microbes (since water has been discovered on Mars). There is life, undoubtedly, somewhere in the Universe. But it is out of reach. The closest star to our Galaxy is five light years away. Imagine, traveling five years at the speed of light. We are not skilled to do so, for now. But he is certain that the extraterrestrials had visited the Earth. All world religions have testimonials: an Enlightener flew in, left followers, and then ascended, that is, flew away…”
On April 29, 2009, an interview with Leonov interview was published at the Russian Kaleidoskop website.
It is a fascinating piece of information, because Leonov is clearly trying to discredit Marina Popovich Soviet cosmonaut and UFO researchers), and contradicts other Soviet cosmonauts who reported UFOs.
He states the following:
“When I had worked in the Cosmonauts Training Centre (Star City, or Zvyozdny gorodok in Russian, is a military research and training facility near Shchyolkovo in the Moscow region, 32 kilometers northeast of Moscow. Russian cosmonauts have lived and trained in Star City at the Yu.A.Gagarin State Scientific Research-and-Testing Cosmonaut Training Center since the 1960s-PM/PS), I headed the Commission for UFOs, and collected all evidence. Unfortunately, there has not been one fact that would not raise doubts. But when one listens to Marina Popovich, one gets such cheerful notion that around us not only do the flying saucers fly about, but also do humanoids walk with red lanterns and a siren.” We will discuss Marina Popovich in this article, at a later stage.
Then Leonov reiterates that there is no intelligent life within the Solar System. Those are his exact words. Leonov continued:
“There is life that can have lowest forms, but in our understanding, there is no intelligent life. There are various testimonies, but no scientific corroboration for them. At the same time, there are numerous artifacts on Earth that demonstrate that someone had visited our planet. But that happened long ago. Written language on Earth has been in existence no more than four thousand years. Prior to that, everything was conveyed through words, and every person would add something. In my understanding, religion, no matter who worships what, has a common foundation; it is enlightenment, ascension. No matter what one takes, Hinduism of Russian Orthodox Christianity, we see that (someone-PM/PS) “arrived”, “flew in”, “told”, “created students and disciples”, and “ascended with thunder and lightnings”. A solution suggests itself: four to five thousand years ago someone had been here. The writing tradition did not even preserve that. But there remain phenomena and testimonies that force doubts whether or not intelligent beings visited the Earth. Most likely, they did. However, so far we do not see them. There is much talk, that Grechko (famous Soviet cosmonaut-PM/PS) had seen them, that during the flight they were accompanied by UFOs; that, allegedly Volodya Kovalenok (another famous Soviet cosmonaut; see Mysterious Sky: Soviet UFO Phenomenon for the fascinating observations attributed to him during the Fifth Expedition; as well as other UFO reports and observations revealed by Soviet and Russian astronauts-PM/PS) had seen them, too, and talked (with them? or about them?-Leonov’s statement is not clear -PM/PS).
“But in fact, when one begins to look in depth, it turns out that these objects are ours, manually made. Pails, cylinders made from polished duralumin that had been thrown away from the station were poorly hermetized, and thus retained their shapes, and from the side they looked like unknown objects. Nothing more and nowhere else had appeared. But people, who go about and talk about this, use their privileges and fame”.
Then, Leonov directly mentions Marina Popovich.
“About ten years ago, Marina Popovich, who today is the president of the Central Asian and Kazakhstan collegium of ufologists, wakes us up at one o’clock at night, and beckons to look at a UFO. We ran to the balcony. Yes, there is a saucer moving over the forest. I tell Marina, we are erecting a building there and are using a big horizontal crane 22 stories tall. Her daughter as well as my daughter, they ran to see; come there (and see-PM/PS) the crane. One month later, there was a ufological congress in (Saint –PM/PS) Petersburg. After the congress, I read in Znaniye magazine: On such and such date, at such coordinates a UFO was observed. All our family had observed, plus we invited the Leonov family, who also observed and confirmed. I meet (later-PM/PS) with Marima, and say: Why? It is not true. She responds to me: Yes, not true, but interesting. But now, when she makes a speech and starts saying about something, I just smile, and think: you go ahead and listen, but everything will be completely different, if they arrive”.
More questions arise after Leonov’s interview. Why does he launch an attack on Marina’s credibility? While Marina is attacked, what of her former husband, Pavel Popovich, one of Russia’s most famous cosmonauts, a former colleague of Leonov’s, a UFO research proponent who headed SOUYZUFOTSENTR and obtained the KGB UFO files from Deputy Chairman of the KGB, N. Sham in 1991 ( see Philip Mantle’s article The Real KGB UFO Files at http://www.ufodigest.com/news/0308/kgb.html); that very Pavel Popovich who himself witnessed a UFO and has helped coordinate Kosmopoisk, an independent civilian field expeditionary and research entity, engaged in the study and research of anomalous phenomena (ufology, cryptophysics), borderline and futuristic scientific breakthroughs? Why is Leonov silent about Pavel Popovich, but outspoken about Marina? Has her research uncovered something that bothers him, and perhaps those from the commission he had headed?
What artifacts does Leonov mention in his interview? He does believe in ancient astronaut visitation possibility (paleocontact, the term Russian ufologists use to describe the hypothesis). What does he know of Kovalyonok’s and Savinikh’s observations in 1981 and what has Leonov heard about the alleged contact described in our book (and based on Cosmonaut Beregovoy’s revelations as reported in the Russian media)?
What about other observations reported by Kovalyonok during his years in space? How does Leonov know that everything will be completely different if “they arrive”, and different in what way?
On May 29, 2009, an interview with Leonov was published in Russian Izvestiya newspaper. He was asked whether UFO enthusiasts tried to communicate with him. Here is how the cosmonaut responded:
“I am fed up with them! Today, there is not even one occurrence, for which one could not find a natural explanation. But people very much want not to be alone. I do not exclude the possibility of the existence of extraterrestrials. Moreover, I think that someone had visited the Earth sometime ago. There are too many signs of the interference of other beings, more developed than human beings. But all the evidence about this (interference or intervention-vmeshatel’stvo in Russian-PM/PS) has to be collected in fragments, because the writing exists several thousand years, and prior to that, everything was recorded by oral tradition”.
On May 30, 2009, another interview was published in Fakty i kommentarii, a Ukrainian newspaper. Leonov was asked whether, while in space, he observed UFOs. He again mentioned the UFO commission he headed, and his duty to collect all evidence. He reiterated that there has not been a single fact that would not raise doubts (but Leonov did not provide the direct answer to the interviewer’s question-PM/PS).
Leonov went on to repeat the story of Marina Popovich and the crane. A few more details were added (“Indeed, we see luminescence that if one really wishes to, could be mistaken a saucer”...”There is a projector (on the crane-PM/PS) that they turn on at night. When clouds are low, the ray rests in the clouds, creating a luminescent circle that resembles a UFO”).
At the end of the story Leonov asks us to forgive Marina Popovich. Then he adds that he is certain that within the Solar System there is no intelligent life, except for the one on Earth. “Man (human being-PM/PS) is the apex of what the Creator has created. And, of course, our planet (is, too-PM/PS)”.
Leonov was interviewed by Russia Today on July 20, 2009. When asked about UFOs, the cosmonaut replied: “Belief in UFOs is just as stupid as the claim that the Americans never landed on the Moon”. But he said that for him, there is still one phenomenon he cannot explain: It’s those circles in the fields. Leonov stated that “it’s not a hoax, and you can’t fake one. What is it? No one has been able to explain”.
This courageous woman is a distinguished test pilot, a scientist with a doctorate degree in flight technology from the University of Leningrad, a Lt. Colonel, and a highly decorated aviator. Today Marina Lavrentyevna Popovich heads a private aviation company. She is a journalist, and a published author of six books. Because of her efforts, Russian ufologists were able to find out many hidden facts of their country’s UFO research and covered-up incidents. She had personally observed UFOs three times in her life, once during an expedition to the Pamir Mountains, to find the Yeti. There were forty people in the expedition, including her daughter, and they all observed a UFO from an altitude of 4000 meters up the mountain. A spherical object over a nearby gorge emitted a ray. Another time she and her husband observed a giant UFO over the Mitino area. It was a giant, elongated object, some 250 meters long. An airplane flying below it was barely seen. She estimated the object to be at the altitude of 20 kilometers. The UFO left behind a vortex trail.
The UFO observation Leonov refers to is this one (our information came from Russia years ago, from her interview with ANOMALIYA newspaper in 1996). The last time (as far as we knew in 2007) Marina Popovich observed a UFO was in June of 1996, at 3:00 a.m. The object made no sounds, but produced complex maneuvers. It also emitted pulse-like bursts of illumination. Marina woke up her spouse and guests, and they also observed the object.
Here, we have obvious inconsistencies with Leonov’s account, but cannot confirm Marina Popovich’s account. Were the “guests” she mentioned, actually Leonov and his family, her neighbors? We have no way to confirm the truthfulness of either account.
Marina Popovich had almost graduated from the cosmonaut training school many years ago. But she was dropped from the program after Pavel Popovich, the general she was married to, convinced high officials that she was not suited for space flights. By doing so he probably saved her health. If anyone is qualified to define what a UFO is, it would be this remarkable woman: she flew all Soviet aircraft, from AN-22 transport planes to MIG-21 supersonic jets. She holds 90 flight records.
Marina Popovich is a very clear-headed person: according to her, 90 percent of sightings are not UFOs but easily explainable phenomena. She mentioned a laboratory in Tver that was assigned the task of interpreting UFO photographs sent to them. Just like her, the researchers there could not explain 10 percent of sightings.
Marina Popovich is firm in her beliefs. She is certain that the inventions of Leonardo Da Vinci, the writings of Jules Verne, and the science fiction of Ray Bradbury were technological transmissions from outer space. The three men have been used as mediums. She considered former Soviet President Gorbachev to be an extraterrestrial “front man“, because he caused profound historical changes.
When Paul Stonehill met her in 1991, she was sure that the secret Soviet files on UFOs would become public. At the time Marina Popovich became something like a spokesperson for Soviet UFO study groups. She estimated that it would be a long while before all such secret files will be open for inspection. Marina Popovich knew of over 14 thousand UFO sightings that took place in the USSR between 1966 and 1991. When she spoke at the Whole Life Expo in Los Angeles in 1991, she broke the news that underground ufologists in the USSR who went public with their beliefs were either fired or placed in psychiatric hospitals. But even Marina Popovich was not aware of many strange UFO sightings and phenomena that took place in the Soviet Union, and came to light after 1991. She was kind enough to share information and photographs with the Russian Ufology Research Center in Los Angeles. Marina Popovich is a concerned ecologist, because she was able to find out the horrible damage inflicted on Russia and other countries that comprised the USSR. She saw rivers drying up, dying lakes and ponds, ozone holes, and toxic spills. Russia's ecology was ravaged even before the Chernobyl incident. Economic plight of Russia in the 1990sand poverty in her native land greatly saddened her.
As for the UFOs that cannot be explained by natural phenomena, being a trained pilot she takes them for what they are: spacecraft of extraterrestrials. Marina Popovich is certain that human beings are not the only intelligent creatures in the Universe and those others are indeed paying us a visit.
In 1991 Marina Popovich showed Paul Stonehill a photograph that Phobos 2 made before its demise. It depicts a gigantic cylindrical object approximately 25 kilometers long. After that last frame was radio-transmitted back to earth, the Soviet probe disappeared.
But Marina Popovich told Paul Stonehill that the Glavkosmos (Soviet Space program), knew all along that whatever it was that destroyed the Soviet probe in 1989, was created by artificial intelligence.
We have done an extensive research of the Phobos 2 spacecraft disaster, and mysterious circumstances surrounding the mission and its aftermath. Our findings are presented Mysterious Sky: Soviet UFO Phenomenon. The mysteries of the Martian moonlet are of great interest to at least some people in the world. On August 6, 2009, in an interview to C-SPAN cable television program, American astronaut Buzz Aldrin said: “We should visit the moons of Mars. There's a monolith there - a very unusual structure on this little potato shaped object that goes around Mars once every seven hours”. The moonlet in question is Phobos. As far as the secrets of the moonlet, well, Marina Popovich tried her best to get the world to pay attention to them, as did others, such as Professor Burdakov. Apparently, Americans know quite a lot, too; and others, hence, the new joint mission Russian-Chinese mission to Phobos is in the works.
There is a person in Ukraine who happened to know both Marina Popovich and Aleksei Leonov quite well.
Valentin Vasilyevich Petukhov had a distinguished Communist Party career in the city of Yevpatoria (today, a major Ukrainian Black Sea port). From 1967 to 1980 he headed the city’s Communist Party Committee, and thus, controlled the city. Before that, he was the deputy secretary, i.e., second in command. The cosmonauts arrived to Yevpatoria because during the Soviet era, the city housed a special secret facility for cosmonaut training, as well as space tracking and flight control center at the Kalamitsky Bay. The cosmonauts had a nickname for Petukhov; they called him Papa Valya.
He has great memories about “Lyosha” Leonov. At the same time, Petukhov’s family befriended Marina Popovich, who was then married to Pavel Popovich. They were really close friends, he revealed in the interview with Ukrainian newspaper Bul’var Gordona on March 27, 2009. Marina is a famous test-pilot, a brave, willful, and valiant woman, stated Petukhov. She came to Yevpatoria as the aircraft commander; the airplane was flown in for repairs in the city’s stationary aviation works of the Black Sea Navy’s air force (SAM-20). She presented Petukhov’s family with her book, and many photographs.
While writing this article, the authors have researched dozens of Russian and Ukrainian sources.
We believe that we have stumbled upon the best explanation for Leonov’s statements about UFOs (and Marina Popovich) in a very interesting post at a Russian UFO discussion forum (http://www.ufolog.ru/forum/).
The author (his name is Vlad) of this post, dated April 18, 2008), revealed that he had a scientific and military background, and he stated his opinion because someone else at the forum repeated arguments of scientists and some military officials about UFOs. In particular, the oath of cosmonaut A. Leonov that during the time he had been the chairman of UFO phenomena research, he never encountered anything “amazing”.
Vlad wrote that he had conversations with those who served in the Rocket Forces, the air defense, pilots, the KGB personnel, and even submariners (he had numerous friends). Practically, they all stated (unofficially) that one way or another, they either personally had encountered UFOs, or their departments had received information about UFOs. Vlad does not want to go into details because there are too many, and (he is being honest), it’s too boring for him to discuss them. But he does mention that his acquaintance in the air defense forces asserted that they were instructed to discern UFOs from aircraft on the radar screens. Then Vlad recalled that while he served in the army, he repeatedly and personally observed that the regiment’s officer on duty had “log of the flight of satellites”. But what satellites could be there in an infantry regiment, asked Vlad. The only means of observation they had were binoculars. The log Vlad refers to had entries that had nothing to do with satellites. Then he goes on to discuss Leonov’s oath (he does not think much about its worth), and refers to Marina Popovich. She was wife of a cosmonaut, distinguished test-pilot, Hero of Socialist Labor; she set 101 aviation records. And she mentioned more than once that she had witnessed UFOs on three occasions. Think about it, wrote Vlad, why would she lie to the entire nation? Has she nothing better to do than study a made-up fiction?
Moreover, let us remember our very famous ufologist Ajaja, continues Vlad. He is a former military man, and had begun his UFO research under direct orders of the Russian Navy HQ, as too many reports about UFOs came there from military seamen. His first work was titled Hydrosphere aspects of UFO problem. (More about Soviet USO, unidentified submersible objects, Ajaja and Naval counterintelligence research is detailed in Mysterious Sky: Soviet UFO Phenomenon-PM/PS). Certainly, the Nay HQ has jokers, or “old women from a village”, right? Vlad adds that he could right much and tediously, but what for…The matter is clear, anyway.
Vlad concludes his post, going back to Leonov. Regardless of all his doubtless merits, he is but an all-Russia story-teller of fairy tales with a kind smile. But a story-teller against his will. Once he said something without thinking it through, and now he has to “save his face”. That is why he swears oaths, although all realize what kind of oaths these are. The most vexing aspect (for Leonov, adds Vlad) is that he would like to take his words back, but it is too late.
Vlad mentioned that he had observed something unusual in the sky, too. Whom should he believe, he asks, his own eyes or Leonov. And, by the way, adds Vlad, Leonov talks very intricately, with cunning, when he states that he personally had not seen anything amazing. But he never talks for everyone.
Vlad concludes his post with a question: “I think I have clarified the situation?” He certainly did for the authors of this article.
A Legendary Person
Leonov told Russian newspaper Izvestiya on May 29, 2009 that he does not consider himself to be a legendary personality.
Despite his illustrious career and position in the Soviet hierarchy, Aleksei Arkhipovich Leonov was not just a Homo Sovieticus. He was born in Siberia, in May of 1934. His father was arrested in 1937, accused of being “an enemy of the people”. Two years later he was acquitted, but those years were very harsh on Aleksei and his family (eight children and his mother); they were “members of the family of the enemy of the people”, lowest of the low, and as he recalled, a number of his neighbors simply came to their home, and took whatever they wanted, including little Aleksei’s clothing.
Later in life, Leonov was expected to become a professional artist. But he loved aviation too, and the young man was then flying jets and studying engineering. In 1959, the 25 year old Leonov was picked as one of the first 20 Cosmonauts.
He was the first person to step out of a spacecraft and walk in space (1965). Leonov was also commander of the Soyuz spacecraft that took part in the first rendezvous between Soviet and United States spacecraft (1975). Hero of the Soviet Union, pilot, cosmonaut, military scientist; writer, artist and talented painter…
Once, during the Soviet era, Leonov purchased an American Ford, but since it was not proper for Soviet cosmonauts to drive in American automobiles, he was forced to sell it.
Once, Leonov helped Russian female cosmonaut Savitskaya sneak out of the confined quarters (before her scheduled flight), and take back streets to get to the stores to buy materials to sew together a blouse. Leonov and Savitskaya sewed lead pieces into the sleeves, so that she could wear (Savitskaya smuggled the blouse into the aircraft) it and surprise her colleagues during the flight’s weightlessness. Did Leonov ever speak with her about the experience she and her colleagues had in 1984, when “angels” entered the Soviet spacecraft (we described the incident in detail, in Mysterious Sky: Soviet UFO Phenomenon)? He never speaks about it. How many other stories about UFOs and aliens Leonov (who has worked 35 years in the Cosmonauts Training Centre) has heard, but does not reveal?
There is a story that before the Baikonur launches, Leonov had a special tradition: he would gently push the cosmonauts with his knee “under their backsides”, before they would climb the ladder to their spacecraft. He is also superstitious, like most other cosmonauts.
Very few people know that when Sergey Korolyov died, three cosmonauts made a secret pact to bury his ashes on the Moon. Sergey Pavlovich Korolev was a designer of guided missiles, rockets and spacecraft, former prisoner of the Gulag, this victim of Stalin’s purges became the multi-talented chief designer of launch vehicles during the early years of the Soviet Union’s space program.
The cosmonauts knew that the Central Committee of the Communist Party would not let them do it (they would probably want part of Lenin’s ashes to be buried first in lunar soil). The three acquired the ashes; hid them in a special capsule, kept by Yuri Gagarin. Gagarin perished later. So did Komarov, another famous Soviet cosmonaut who died prematurely. Leonov is the only one remaining. The Soviets did not land on the Moon, and the capsule was eventually lost.
Pilot-Cosmonaut Leonov strongly rejects claims that Americans made up their Moon mission. He is adamant that the Americans were on the Moon; Soviet radars monitored everything, and Leonov and his colleagues were able to observe the Americans, and root for them.
Leonov was one of the cosmonauts who were being trained for the Soviet manned Moon mission. He was actually in charge of the training, as the Soviet lunar team commander. Yet, the program was closed (after Korolyov’s death) and Americans became the first humans to walk on the Moon. The training was extremely harsh, and three Soviet cosmonauts lost their lives in the process.
In 1992 Leonov, Major General of the Soviet Air Force was let go from the Armed Forces, five years before his scheduled retirement. He was upset that no one needed him, and decided to dedicate himself to painting. But Leonov was wrong. He was hired to be the president of Alfa-Kapital, an investment fund; they knew of his connections with the military-industrial complex, and his managerial skills. In 1998, the year of the Asian crisis and Russia’s default, Leonov became the Vice President of Alfa-Bank, and significantly expanded the bank. He has traveled to the United States on many occasions, as a businessman.
Leonov lives in the house he has designed himself, near the Star City. His painting studio is on the third floor. Leonov is involved in philanthropy, and helps children with heart diseases (his paintings have been sold for substantial amounts).
He said in one of his interviews that he often dreams of flying, whether in aircraft; or in spacecraft into the deep space…and becomes sad. He is over 75 years old, and has suffered a heart attack before; now he has heart problems. But his spirit is strong.
In April of 2009, during the cosmonauts meeting with Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev, Leonov was able to save the Cosmonauts Training Centre training aircraft from being turned over to the Air Force for its transportation needs. Medvedev treated him with great respect.
Leonov considers alien invaders to be a threat. But the invaders he is afraid of are meteorites (in his words, akin to the Tunguska phenomenon). What would happen if a meteorite was to fall on Moscow or London? Yet, virtually no attention is paid to the issue. Leonov calls for a new international prevention system to be created (Izvestiya, May 29, 2009). This is more important than travel to Mars, added Pilot-Cosmonaut. Despite his age he continues to be a pioneer in many fields and his highly respected by all that know him or have worked with him. He is a true hero of Russia in every sense of the word, although we disagree with his opinion of Marina Popovich.
Whether he knows more about the UFO phenomenon that he has publicly stated remains to be seen but his many comments on the possibility of ancient astronauts is a curious one and nothing he says would surprise us.
MYSTERIOUS SKY – Soviet UFO Phenomenon, By Philip Mantle & Paul Stonehill, is available via Amazon.