Institute 22. Conspiracy wonks go nuts over it, saying that it was the Soviet equivalent of Project Blue Book: an official investigation into UFO sightings. The things I’ve heard from hardened nutcases about it…they seem to think that it’s some hidden archive with all the proof they’ve ever wanted about flying goddamn saucers. As if the Russkies were somehow worse at keeping secrets than Uncle Sam or something.

I’ve been to their archive in Moscow, and I can assure you that it’s not like that at all. UFOs are pretty tangential to the whole thing, the real purpose of which was to watch the skies for advanced or experimental Western spyplanes or drones. With between four and five million troops in the Army alone, that was a lot of eyes. No wonder we had such a hard time getting anything short of a satellite or SR-71 over them.

But for anyone with the fortitude and knowledge of nomenklatura Russian terms, there are a few sightings, no more then 5-10%, that lack official explanations. And there are reams of papers, written by someone with an overactive imagination or too much exposure to officially banned Western pulp sci-fi (or both) about the supposed, potential, or imagine effect of unknown technology on Soviet military hardware. There are also papers declaring the whole thing a waste of time and money.

Just like we did.

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