The Legend of Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal runs 400 miles through south-eastern Siberia in Russia, near the border of Mongolia.  By most definitions, it is the largest freshwater lake in the world.  It is the deepest, at more than 5,300 feet, and has the greatest water volume.  It is also the largest by surface area – larger than Lake Superior.  Roughly one-fifth of all the fresh water in the world is in Lake Baikal.

Anyone who does some research about Lake Baikal may come across a certain legend from the 1980’s.

This post is neither to confirm nor deny this legend.  It is only to inform – and entertain – the reader.

Fishermen and sailors used to tell of powerful lights coming from the deep and objects flying up from the water at Lake Baikal, and of flashes similar to arc or electric welding underwater.

In the summer of 1982, Soviet Navy divers had been holding reconnaissance training exercises in Lake Baikal.

Mark Shteynberg and Lt. Colonel Gennady Zverev held similar diver reconnaissance training at lake Issik Kul in Kyrgyzstan.

At some point during or after the training exercises, Major-General V. Demyanko, commander of the USSR Military Diver Service of the Engineer Forces of the Ministry of Defense showed up to talk to Shteynberg and Zverev about an incident at Lake Baikal.

Demyanko claimed that during the exercises in Lake Baikal, divers had encountered mysterious “underwater swimmers, very human-like, but huge in size – almost three meters (nearly 10 feet) in height.”

The swimmers were clad in tight-fitting silvery suits, although the water was icy-cold.

At the depth of fifty meters (160ft), these “swimmers” had neither scuba diving equipment (oxygen tanks), nor any other equipment – only sphere-like helmets concealing their heads.

The local military commander made the decision to try to capture one of the strange “swimmers.”   He sent a group of seven divers down for this reason.

The divers went underwater and tried to cover a creature with a net, but then the entire group of divers was somehow thrown up to the surface.

The divers’ equipment did not allow surfacing from such depths without going through a process of decompression stops, and all of the members of the expedition got Caisson disease, or “the bends.”

The only treatment available consisted of decompression in a pressure chamber. They had several such pressure chambers in the military region, but only one was in working condition. It could contain no more than two persons.

The local CO forced four divers into the chamber.  As a result, three of them (including the leader of the group) died and the rest became invalids.

Demyanko rushed to the other lake to warn Shteynberg and Zverev against taking such actions.   The lake in Kyrgyzstan was also similarly deep.

A short time later, the staff headquarters of the Turkmenistan military region received an order from the top commander of the Land Forces.

The order consisted of a detailed analysis of the Lake Baikal events and reprimands, and it included a bulletin from the headquarters of the Engineer Forces of the Ministry of Defense.

The bulletin listed numerous deep-water lakes where there had been registered sightings of unusual phenomena, including appearances of underwater creatures analogous to those at Lake Baikal.

Such documents, without exception, were highly classified and “for the eyes” of a very limited circle of military officers.

The territory under Shteynberg’s jurisdiction also had a water reservoir, Sarez Lake. It was roughly a kilometer and a half deep. Sarez is visible to those stationed at a “tracking point” in the Pamir Mountains (where they track American SDI satellites, among other things).

Instruments and devices of the Soviet military sub-unit (that had been doing the “tracking”) had repeatedly registered submersion of disc-like objects, and their surfacing and subsequent liftoff at Sarez Lake.

According to the Svobodnaya Pressa news website, the Russian Navy has declassified its records of encounters with unidentified objects.  The files of the Russian Ufology Research Center also contain much more information about Russian underwater sightings, including statements of Naval officers and intelligence operatives.

Updated post