Ukraine's political life is no stranger to the unusual and the inexplicable, but if ordinary people tire of intrigues and controversy, they can turn their attention to more celestial, if no more comprehensible phenomena. UFO sightings are up across the country. But in contrast to the politicians, no ufologist claims to have all the answers.

The Zond center for the study of anomalous phenomena claims that Ukraine has seen an increase in UFO activity over recent years. "While in the 1990s we had 10 to 15 reports a year, now their number has increased to 20-30. Most of them are accompanied by photos and videos. Witnesses understand that if they have seen something unusual in the sky they must tell researchers about it," said Artyom Bilyk, the center's learned secretary.

In scientists' view, the increase in reported sightings is explained by the proliferation of technology, as more and more people have access to cameras, video cameras, camera phones and so on. But even controlling for the increase in available technology, the UFO phenomenon is now observed more often than before.

Most sightings come from large cities with large populations, ufologists say. The Crimea is particularly famous for the number of observations, especially in summer time.

But the explanation is simple. Dr. Alexei Perekhod said this is because "there are many disco clubs in the Crimea, which are equipped with laser units. With low cloud cover, the lasers produce mysterious glow overhead." Besides, the seasonal increase of sightings in the Crimea (and some other southern regions) correlates with a seasonal increase in population, as large numbers of holidaymakers arrive for the summer. More people mean more eyes to spot UFOs.

But researchers want more than to merely record an event. Their real ambition is to determine its nature. Current statistics show that about 90% of sightings are of natural phenomena (aircraft, birds, satellites, stars, etc.). Only the remaining 10% are of interest to scientists.

UFO - A Threat To National Security?

Researchers are not joking when they say UFO appearances over Ukraine may threaten its national security. "Such flying machines may well be spying apparatus sent by other countries, or flying test prototypes from within and outside Ukraine," Bilyk said.

In addition, UFOs may pose a direct threat to witnesses' health and safety.

UFOs interacting with the environment sometimes produce distortions in biological life (altering plants and animals), increase radioactivity or electro-magnetic fields, and generate other fields of an unknown nature. Occasionally UFOs leave noticeable environment effects.

From The Horse's Mouth

Svetlana Shevchenko and her mother Victoria witnessed a unique event on Easter night 2007. "At about 23:30, from a fifth floor balcony in Kiev, we saw something unusual. Those were certainly not stars, we have never seen anything like that before," said Svetlana. She took a picture of the event, which is now studied with interest by UFO experts.

"They were searchlights or lamps. Two hovered permanently, with one of them directing a pencil beam at the monastery, and the other at Kreshchatik Street. Curiously, the light from the lamps was white yellow, and the beams blue. A third and fourth lamp kept appearing and disappearing," the witness said.

A similar object was seen in Kiev six months earlier, on October 6. A photographic camera registered three luminous spheres in the sky.

UFOs May Change Our Future

UFOs often seem to exert emotional effects on people, producing either inexplicable joy and elation, or fear and depression. An interesting case was recorded in the village of Yablunivka, Kiev Region, in 1989. "People who watched a UFO's radiant envelope felt euphoric. They were certainly under a kind of spell, and additionally they were fascinated with the sight," Bilyk said. Aside from natural sense of curiosity, an UFO can suppress human will, "freezing" witnesses in their tracks, or making them take flight in panic. Many of the reported effects of UFOs bear striking similarity to folk-tale descriptions of devils, angels, elves, gnomes, and mythical creatures.

There are many cases of UFO's affecting machinery, especially cars and radio electronics. In 2003, when eleven objects were observed at the Lonzheron beach in Odessa, the witness' quartz watch stopped for an hour and a half. Shortly before that animals had been seen behaving erratically. Bilyk suggested that some instructions should be drawn up for law enforcement agencies and authorities telling how to act in close encounters of the third and fourth kind.

Dr. Perekhod's most memorable sighting was on an expedition to the Sumy Region, where he identified the aftereffects of a flaming poltergeist. In the effected house objects had spontaneously burst into flame. In the two hours it lasted no less than 17 spontaneous combustions were recorded. In a stack of bedsheets the one to catch fire was that in the middle. Another interesting case was in the Kiev Region, where investigators found a tree with charred roots growing from a crater lined with a substance resembling old tarmac. "No natural occurrence can have such consequences. And although our expedition ended several months ago, I am still puzzled: How can one explain it all?" the expert said.

UFOs may turn out a much more complex phenomenon than the human mind can imagine. So ufologists urge everyone to look upwards more often. The odds of you witnessing something unusual and inexplicable are great.