Ukrainian Time Traveler, Sergei Ponomarenko

A confused young man was found wandering the streets in Kiev. His clothes were fifty years out of fashion. He carried an old model camera which appeared brand new. His name was Sergei Ponomarenko and the authorities were dumbfounded by his documents, issued to him decades before Ukraine gained its independence from the Soviet Union.

In 2006 Sergei Ponomarenko was arrested for vagrancy in the capital of Ukraine and given a psychiatric evaluation. The receptionist didn’t like him. She was on her cell and Sergei kept looking for the telephone cord.

He refused to release his grip on the camera. Psychiatrist Paul Krutikov was a hobbyist photographer also, and he recognized the camera model. It was a Yashimaflex, the first model ever manufactured by the Japanese company. Sergei said he was born in 1932 but he was only twenty-five years old.

He said he was taking pictures in Kiev when he saw a strange object in the sky. Krutikov asked, “Do you mean a UFO?” Sergei answered, “All I want to do is go home. What is a UFO?” The flying object was in the shape of a bell. The next thing he knew, he was lost in a capital city which he no longer recognized. The psychiatrist convinced Ponomarenko that his film should be developed. The shiny camera was handed over to the doctor.

After about an hour the evaluation was over and Krutikov released him to state custody. That’s when Krutikov and his receptionist both noticed that the clocks in the office were all running behind by about one hour.

The Yashimaflex camera used old-fashioned medium format film. It was not easy to find a developing cannister that fit the size of the negative film. Krutikov was lucky to find one at a second-hand store. The negatives contained markings that prove the film was manufactured in 1958 and the photos appeared to match this time period. The last exposure was of the bell-shaped UFO reported by Ponomarenko.

Somehow Sergei escaped the custody of the authorities even though he was being held in a room with iron bars on the window. The police were alerted to apprehend him on sight but they never got the chance. It was assumed he made a border crossing into Russia and his story never even made the newspapers. However in the memoirs of Paul Krutikov published after his death, the psychiatrist revealed the rest of his investigation into the man out of time.

One of the black & white pictures was of an old street in Kiev which Sergei had given as his address. There were other photographs of his house and front yard, and a picture of a young woman who must have been the girlfriend he talked about, whose name was Valentine Kulish. The psychiatrist tracked her down and was only a little surprised when he came face to face with a woman who looked much older than her photograph, being a grandmother 74 years of age. Valentine confirmed that in the late fifties, Sergei did vanish for one week. When he returned to her, he refused to explain his absence.

The only explanation offered by the doctor was that the sighted UFO somehow shared a time distortion field with Sergei’s body, as evidenced by the stopping of clocks in the office, and his disappearance from a locked holding cell, and his return to his own time.

Krutikov was allowed access to police archives. Ponomarenko had crossed paths with the authorities two more times after returning home. At age 46 he was arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct. The file contained a mug shot of Sergei as an older man. The record also showed he passed away three months later in 1978. He expired when the car he was driving ran off road and crashed into a tree.

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