Welcome to the idyllic Lake Baikal, where nothing is as it seems...

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It was 1982 and seven military divers were busy training in Lake Baikal, Siberia. All of a sudden, one of them spotted bizarrely shaped underwater vehicles, zooming along in the waters below – moving far faster than anything invented and used by the USSR during that time.

And that wasn’t all.

The divers claimed they’d seen a group of 3ft tall ‘humanoid creatures’ dressed in tight-fitting silver suits.

‘Let’s capture them,’ one suggested. But it wasn’t that easy. This foolhardy decision resulted in the deaths of three of the divers, while the survivors were severely injured. Terrifying.

Welcome to Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world. And perhaps the most mysterious…

Located on a rift line, where two tectonic plates move along fault lines, between the Irkutsk Oblast region to the north-west and the Buryat Republic to the south-east, it measures an impressive 12,248 square miles across, making it the seventh largest lake in the world by surface area.

But the 5,387ft deep lake, which is surrounded by a rich landscape of dense forests and steep mountains, is also 25 million years old. Little wonder then, that it has a rich and varying history, and that many legends surround it…

An old story says it was created when a gigantic rock fell from the sky. Jesus himself was believed to have visited the lake, blessing the land to the north, but cursing the land which lay to the south. Local folklore says corn is unable to grow in the cursed area.

Sea monsters abound

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And of course, in a lake so deep, tales of sea monsters abound. One is a giant sturgeon fish, with a prominent snout and armoured plating along its back, known as Lusad-Khan, literally translated as ‘Water Dragon Master’.

This beast has been around since ancient times, with drawings of it standing upright, submerged in water with wicked claws and a forked tongue found along the Baikal Cliffs.

But sea monsters are not the only paranormal entities drawn to the mysterious waters of Lake Baikal.

Since the Soviet era, the area has become a UFO hotspot, with declassified Russian Navy files relating to unexplained activity showing reports of strange activity around the lake. In 1958, a Russian military plane crashed into the lake’s freezing waters after allegedly being pursued by a UFO.

And what happened to those divers back in the early 80s? Had they accidentally entered the base of an unidentified, submerged UFO?

And it’s not only naval officers who’ve witnessed such unusual sights. Locals have seen strange lights emitting from the lake; weird, ‘cigar-shaped’ objects hovering above the water.

In April 1987, Valery Rudentsov, a man from the village of Shida, close to the lake, saw a ‘huge flying saucer’ 150m above. ‘It was a full moon and the visibility was so clear that no one of us could doubt the reality of what we saw…’ he said. ‘Since that time it has been a kind of sacrilege to me – not to believe in UFOs…we constantly see these on the shores of Lake Baikal. They exist.’

UFO hotspot

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It’s not just during the days of the USSR that such things have been spotted. There were incidents as recently as in 2009 and 2010.

At around 10pm on 9 July 2009, a local chairman, Sergey Konechnykh, photographed two strange glowing objects floating in the night sky. The objects had a yellow core with orange light surrounding them. He said they rose out of Baikal, then landed somewhere else on the lake’s surface.

What he saw was consistent with another witness’s account that night. Holidaymaker Anna Vinogradova said: ‘We were standing with tents on the beach and at night we saw orange-red flashes, as if there were a huge fire.’

And at the nearby town of Listvyanka a year later, a photo taken by Nikita Tomin showed three green-shaded lights on a UFO flying above the lakeside resort.

Strange circles of ice, which resemble crop circles, have appeared in parts of the lake too.

The Russian government deny that the accounts from their files are due to supernatural incidents, maintaining the incidents have natural causes.

Yet some locals even say these UFOs may be connected to the mysterious lake monster. Is it possible that this could be some sort of UFO hybrid, lurking beneath the deep, that these monsters have bases deep at the bottom of the lake?

Whatever the answer is though, Lake Baikal will always remain one of the most mysterious places on the planet.

The Spielberg connection?

In early 2015, it was rumoured in the Russian media that renowned Hollywood director Steven Spielberg was coming to Siberia to make a documentary, Depth 211, about Lake Baikal. Though no stranger to UFOs, having directed ET and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, in May this was revealed to be a hoax.