More evidence of the abominable snowman (more politely known as a Yeti or Bigfoot) has been uncovered in Russia's Kemerovo Region in southwestern Siberia, the Moscow newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda reports.

Vladimir Makut, a local administrator in the Tashtagol district of Kemerovo Region, noted in an interview with the newspaper that sightings of unusual large creatures in the area date far back into Soviet times, when the area contained several prison colonies. The creatures inspired such dread that the prisoners sometimes refused to go out to work. The local native people, the Shors, also have numerous legends about wild "dark people." Specialists note, however, that, historically, more yeti activity has been recorded in neighboring regions. The Soviet Academy of Sciences even set up a commission to investigate those reports in 1958. It concluded that Altai, which Tashtagol borders on, is a breeding ground for the creature. There the yetis have been sighted in pairs and yeti children have been seen.

Dozens of sightings near Azas Cave have been recorded, all during the winter months. The area is accessible only with local guides and the right equipment, but it is visited by campers and personnel from the coal mining industry. The latest series of reports began last November. Igor Burtsev, director of the International Center for Hominology, noted that the situation is unusual in that reports have come from locals. Local inhabitants rarely report such sightings, even when they are aware of the presence of the mysterious creatures. There were no actually encounters with the yetis, but numerous tracks were found. They were described as similar to bear tracks, but with distinct toes.

Makut organized an expedition to the cave and, after finding tracks himself, called in Burtsev and several regional officials. They also confirmed the presence of footprints in the cave, but declined to enter the cave farther than 30 yards, noting the dangerous conditions. The yetis themselves eluded the explorers.

Komsomolskaya Pravda noted that there have been other recent developments in hominology. Last month, a film crew from Russia's Channel One television discovered enormous hominid footprints in Abkhazia and interviewed a local resident who stated that she was the granddaughter of a domesticated yeti. According to the woman, Raisa Sabekia, her grandmother, named Zana, was captured by hunters and given as a gift to her grandfather, who was a local nobleman. He eventually taught her to speak. Abkhazia is another region known for the presence of yeti. An Academy of Sciences expedition searched for the creature in that region in Soviet times as well.