The Mysterious Case of Sergei Ponomarenko–Time Traveler? 

Like most law enforcement, police officers in the city of Kyiv have dealt with their fair share of crime and other less serious disturbances. But on one fateful day in 2006, a few officers were met with something different.

It was April 23, 2006, when a man was arrested for suspicious behavior. He looked to be in his late 20s or early 30s, and he was dressed like someone out of an old movie. The man, who identified himself as Sergei Ponomarenko, was confused and flustered, which wasn’t odd for someone who had just been arrested. 

What was strange, though, was the question he kept asking–Sergei desperately wanted to know, “What year is it?” 

A photo of Ponomarenko, Image: thedecoderx

Sergei Ponomarenko–Time Traveler? 

Claims of time travel are nothing new, and what Sergei was telling officers wasn’t exactly novel. What set him apart from the rest, though, was that he had proof of his story. 

Sergei told officers that he wasn’t just lost in location but in time. According to the young man, only minutes before, he had been living in the year 1958. When he was asked for identification, he happily handed it over, but it just made things even more confusing. 

Sergei produced an ID. Instead of something current, what he handed over was a document that had been given to Ukrainian citizens when the country was still under the control of the Soviet Union. It did appear to be Sergei on the ID, and it listed his date of birth as 1932.

Sergei’s passport showing the birth year 1932

It wasn’t just the man’s birth date that was impossible. The Soviet Union had disbanded back in 1991, and Ukraine has been independent ever since. So how in the world did this 25-year-old man only have documentation for the now-nonexistent Soviet Union? 

The Camera 

Along with his vintage clothing, Sergei also had something else on his person that made him seem firmly in the wrong time. He carried a camera that was obviously aged.

Upon investigation, it was discovered to be a model that had stopped being produced in the 1970s. More importantly, the film inside the camera was intact, and could potentially be developed by an expert if one could be found. 

Sergei insisted that his camera, and what he managed to catch on the film, played a big part in his instantaneous time travel. 

The camera that Sergei Ponomarenko was carrying with film that could possibly be developed (Olaf / Public Domain)

Alien Intervention 

According to Sergei, he had been taking pictures of the city immediately before he was transported into the future. He was walking with his fiancé, who he identified as a woman named Valentina Curish, when the two of them spotted something strange in the sky

The object was bell-shaped and floating in a way that should have been impossible. He was fascinated by the object. He thought that if he was able to grab a picture of it he could get a closer look once the film was developed. 

Sergei pointed his camera and took a picture of the unidentified flying object. The second he snapped the picture, he was transported through time. When he lowered the camera, he was no longer in 1958, but instead in 2006.

An expert was found that could develop the film. He was surprised to see that the vintage film was in nearly perfect condition. 

What he saw on the developed pictures corroborated Sergei’s story–there was a picture of a woman who could have been Sergei’s fiance. There was a picture of Sergei himself in the clothing he had been arrested in, and finally, just as Sergei claimed, the bell-shaped UFO. 

A picture of the alleged UFO that Sergei captured. He claims that this was what triggered him transporting into 2006.

So, even if it defied belief, signs were pointing to at least some of Sergei Ponomarenko’s story being true. Believing in time travel was still out of the question for the Kyiv police department, so they did the only thing they could do–they called in a psychiatrist. 

Sergei Ponomarenko’s Interview by Pablo Kutrikov 

The police officers who had arrested Sergei were convinced there was nothing else they could do for the man. He was either an honest-to-God time traveler or someone who was mentally unwell. 

Since only the latter option was in the realm of reality, they dropped Sergei off at a psychiatric clinic to get some medical help. It was on April 23, 2006, that Doctor Pablo Kutrikov first examined Sergei. He interviewed the strange young man and recorded it.

Sergei answered all the questions just like he had back at the police station. All of his answers remained the same. He told the doctor that he was 25 and that he had been taking pictures with his fiance when he time-traveled to 2006. 

Dr. Kutrikov then showed Sergei the developed photos. He was not surprised to see the images, insisting that they were proof of his tale.

Sergei was then released to go back to his room. However, once he left the doctor’s office, he seemed to disappear into thin air, never to be seen again. 

So, did Sergei Ponomarenko make it back to his correct place in time, or was his story false all along?

Debunking Sergei Ponomarenko

As fun as the legend of time traveler Sergei Ponomarenko is, the tale has recently been all but completely debunked. 

The story persists because of the wealth of visual evidence that seems to point in the direction of Sergei being real. With just a cursory search on the internet, most of what will come up are photos of Sergei and the photos from his camera. 

YouTuber Joe Scott took a much deeper dive into the subject, and found something incredible. All of these pictures that had been touted as proof were recreations made for a Ukrainian television show called, ‘Aliens’. 

The show created the images for their episode ‘Time Traveler’, where they told Sergei’s story. So none of the available photos are legitimate. More importantly, ‘Aliens’ offers a disclaimer at the beginning of each episode telling viewers that there is no real evidence that what they show is true. 

The disclaimer read, 

“The ‘Aliens’ series aims to restore scenes of controversial topics. Any theory and hypothesis proposed cannot be considered to be correct, and further scientific research is required. All scene restorations are based on the statements of ‘witnesses’. There is no conclusive evidence to prove the existence of aliens. Your opinion on this issue is up to you.”

So with just a little research, the Sergei Ponomarenko legend has been proven false, but it was still fun while it lasted. 


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