Koffmann-Pallix-Expedition Almasty 92 in 1992
expedition is so significant because it was supposed to be the
first in the history of Russian research into the question of
relic hominids which was jointly organised by the RSC and a western
partner and financed by French companies. A dream of the RSC seemed
to have been realised. The West was supplying finance for Russian
research. The complaint about having to work without any financial
or technical help runs, like a red thread, through Koffmann's
accounts and publications (Koffmann, 1965 and 1968; Greenwell,
1988). Bayanov (1996, p.145), also let his readers know that financial
help was wanted. One must always bear in mind that Koffmann's
research, after the time of the Snowman Commision, has always
been on her private initiative and has been carried out on the
orders of either scientific or governmental agencies.
who knows the statements and publications about the expedition
must have recognised the obvious contra- dictions. In the Autumn
of 1992, the French journalist and film maker, Sylvain Pallix,
co-organizer of the expedition, held a press conference in Paris
where he reported the expedition's findings. Many newspapers published
these conference. The film which Pallix made, Almasty 92
was shown several times on French television. Koffmann appeared
several times in the film. Koffmann, however, claims in cryptozoological
circles, "This expedition was a fraud; it never took
place!" How can one explain these contrary statements
and how did the expedition come into existence?
the start of the inflation in 1990, Koffmann, who had lived for
more than 50 years in Russia, went back to France where the pension
was better. There she published, as early as 1991, carefully selected
material from her collection in the French popular science magazine
Archeologia (no. 269, 1991). Naturally, most readers
got the impression that here and in her following articles was
a digest of her current knowledge. But, there are some reasons
to believe that this is not the case. Important aspects and results
of the research results were never published. It is conspicuous
that Koffmann used the sensational title L´Almasty, yeti
du Caucase for this article, which received a lot of
attention in France, since the Yeti of the Himalayas has nothing
to do with the Almasty of the Caucasus.
can be assumed that Koffmann's article was intended to create
sponsor interest, since without sponsors the continuation of field
research in the face of the prevailing economic crisis in Russia
was impossible. And, in fact, half a year later, in Koffmann´s
second article L´Almasty du Caucase, mode de vie d´un
hominide (Archeologia, no.276, 1992), one can read that a
French-Russian expedition was being formed and that sponsors were
needed. Koffmann selected the French journalist and film maker
Sylvain Pallix as partner and together they organised the expedition.
They intended to start in May, 1992, a very short time in which
to organise a project, which in her second article was written
to be a huge, long-term, scientific operation of the highest standard.
Michel Raynal (1993, p.14), point out on this very short preparation
time. Pallix was responsible for obtaining the money and the technical
equipment. Koffman was in charge of the organisation, visas for
the French participants, determination of the project length,
accommodation, selection of the research area and work plan. She
was the head of the expedition.
has to ask why Koffmann chose a journalist and his helpers for
this meaningful cryptozoological project, that had apparently
been planned over many years. She must have known that he was
totally unqualified for the field-work demanded in the Caucasus.
Pallix and his French helpers had no knowledge of Russian or any
Caucasian language. They had no cryptozoological or biological
qualifications and no expedition experience. Raynal (1993, p.14),
also realised this. Koffmann later explained this contradiction
by saying, Pallix had pushed her for so long into making an expedition
that, in the end, she gave in. But those who know Koffmann's personality,
particularly some of her Russian helpers, know exactly that she
could never be pushed into doing something against her will, especially
anything to do with Almasty.
problems delayed the departure of the French group from Paris.
In the Summer they drove in cross-country vehicles, via Moscow,
to the Caucasus. Koffmann accompanied them from Moscow. She reported
that it was necessary for her to accompany them in view of the
dangerous situation on Russian road, particularly for foreigners.
Russian researchers, who were to take part in the expedition,
were already waiting in the Caucasus. Due to the very long delay,
the Russians had already left by the time the group with Koffmann
arrived in the Caucasus. Because of this, the expedition could
not take place in the form Koffmann had planned. She lodged the
French group in the house of her friend, the Kabardinian Muaed
Mysyrjan, where previously Bayanov, Bykova and other researchers
reported, "... But, already after some days there was
conflict between Koffmann and the Pallix group". As
a result of this conflict Koffmann demanded, as head of the expedition,
that Mysyrjan throw the French guests out of his house. They should
receive absolutely no help. But Mysyrjan refused. He said, "I
cannot do that to my guests. It is the first foreign expedition
in our region. I cannot treat them like that. Why should I throw
them out just because you have an argument with them?"
And he asked her, "Who was it that brought the French
here?" At this question Koffmann became furious and
left without answering.
would it have meant if Mysyrjan had thrown his guests out? There
was already then a critical political and social situation in
the Caucasus. The war in Abkhazia had just begun and also Kabardinians
from the region were taking part. Abkhazia is only 150 kilometres
away. The French were not capable of communicating with the local
people. They knew nothing about existing dangers and necessary
precautions for self-protection. As leader of the expedition,
Koffmann would have placed them in incalculable danger by putting
them out. We consider such action in the Caucasus to be irresponsible.
broke off all co-operation with the Pallix group. He was then
in a difficult position. The French sponsors had given money,
equipment and the vehicles. In return they wanted a film of the
expedition. Pallix had signed agreements, with Koffmann's consent,
which would ensure an effective media marketing of the expedition.
For the film, recordings had been made in France of an interview
with Koffmann, which can be seen in the film. Without Koffmann's
assistance the film and the expedition were doomed to failure.
But now, against Koffmann's will, Mysyrjan helped his French guests.
As guide and interpreter - he speaks French - he helped the French
group to achieve their objective. He knew the methodology of field-work
and how to record eyewitness accounts. As a local person, he knew
the locality. Under his leadership, an expedition could still
be carried out but, without Koffmann and quite differently to
what she had planned. The group spent more than two months in
the mountains in their cross-country vehicles. With Mysyrjan's
help, they were even able to find a trace of a wildman. When Koffmann
heard about this, she had another of her fits of rage.
teacher Muaed Mysyrjan in his national clothes.
Obviously because of the argument with Koffmann, when the French
departed in the Autumn, they took the vehicles and equipment back
to France. Nothing was left be- hind for Koffmann. An expedition
with interesting results, documented on film, had taken place
against Koffmann's wishes. This was an unbearable situation for
her. One can guess that Koffmann never had a real interest in
making a film despite having sig- ned an agreement. She knows
that film production and practical field-work do not mix.
For that reason, she later made an effort to discredit Pallix,
sometimes with grotesque arguments. So she said, in Paris, the
French had insulted the local people in the Caucasus. That is
hard to believe since the French had absolutely no knowledge of
either the Russian or the Caucasian languages. She did everything
she could to discredit the film, in which she herself appears,
and to stop its distribution.
For this reason, she claimed that Pallix had faked the trace of
an Almasty which can be seen in the film. Raynal (1993, p.15),
also published this version. Communications with local people,
by a member of our group, lead to the conclusion that the traces
in all probability were real. Their word is more to be trusted
than that of Koffmann. Particularly difficult to believe, for
those who know the area and local situation, is Koffmann's claim
that Pallix paid for false eyewitness accounts.
Interesting in this connection is also the following fact: The
Belgian cryptozoological society A.B.E.P.A.R., whose chairman
is Eric Joye, owns the film Almasty 92. Written requests
from Germany about obtaining a copy of the film have never been
answered by Joye. Probably, he is following the advice of Raynal,
who is influenced by Koffmann. Cryptozoologists under the influence
of Koffmann consequently wrote incorrectly about the expedition.
Bayanov (1993 and 1996, p. 215), wrote:
„ (...) In
the April/June 1992 Co-op I wrote of a pending Russian-French
expedition in Kabarda, in
Caucasus, under Marie-Jeanne Koffmann´s leadership. I did take
place, but after a
on a much modest scale than had been expected due to funding problems.
By the time
feedback from the locals had appeared, winter had set in in the
mountains and fieldwork
Koffmann has returned to Paris to acquire more equipment and is
Kabarda in a couple of months, accompanied by her Russian and
French assistants. (...)"
his readers never did hear anything more about the expedition,
not even in his book published in 1996. It is absolutely unlikely,
because of his position in Russian cryptozoology, that four years
after the expedition he did not know what had happened. His readers
did not hear about the existence of the film either. Raynal (1993,
p.14), wrote about the preparations for the expedition:
"...Hélas, préparée à la va-vite
par une reporter dont les compétences zoologiques, anthropologiques
et cryptozoologiques sont
discutables (on lui doit essentiellement un film sur une vedette
de rock !),
cette expédition ét
ait d´avance vouée à l´échec. (...) "
account gives the impression that Koffmann had nothing to do with
the really hasty preparations. In this way he avoids in this connection
the vital question: Who selected Pallix, who had no qualification
for cryptozoological field-work, for co-operation? The answer
is, "Koffmann". As leader of the expedition, she was
directly engaged in the preparations and in planning. She obtained
visas and other documents for the Pallix group, for example, and
must have known which people were taking part in the expedition.
Travel plans, how long the expedition would last, project methodology
and many other things were her responsibility. Why did she particularly
choose to co-operate with Pallix? In Koffmann's publication in
Archeologia in 1992, the readers were told about scientific
co-operation, over an extended period, was announced between Russian
and "French researchers". But, we must ask
today, who were these "French researchers"?
Were they scientists who were qualified and ready to spend several
months some years in Russia? Their names were never mentioned.
Koffmann must have known who they were because she arranged the
visas for the expedition's French participants. Today, one must
suspect that really researchers never existed. The "researchers"
were in reality Pallix and his helpers, whose only qualification
was their ability to raise money and equipment.
are many grounds for believing that Koffmann never really planned
to co-operate with the French journalists in the Caucasus. Her
interest lay in obtaining the necessary equipment (cross-country
vehicles, for example). She selected Pallix because, as journalist,
he had the connections to find sponsors for the expedition. The
marketing rights to the expedition were the reason for the investment.
The vehicles and equipment would remain in the hands of the RSC.
That was written into their agreement and was probably the deciding
factor for Koffmann. She knew exactly that she could easily provoke
a conflict with journalists on the spot and later point out their
unsuitability and poor quality. This would have been hardly possible
with French scientists.
Pallix wanted to sell his film, he was not interested in publicising
the scandal with Koffmann. As journalist, he used the subject
for his own purposes. Today, Koffmann poses as the naive victim.
She had known nothing about the methods of French journalists
and had been cheated. But, if that is the truth, one has to ask
why neither Bayanov or Raynal mention this cheating. Why do the
published communications of these well informed colleagues of
Koffmann contradict each other?
attempt to obtain money and equipment through Pallix failed but,
in 1994, Koffmann tried again with another potential source. She
applied to the Swiss firm 'Rolex' for a sum of money
to support her research. This was turned down on the grounds that
projects in the crisis area of the Caucasus could not be supported.
A short time later she saw in the German study group a new possibility
of getting what she wanted. In doing so she did not want to incur
any moral responsibility. The Germans were invited to co-operate,
just like Pallix. We think, Koffmann's real intentions were obviously
quite different. The foreign researchers themselves were unwanted
and would be treated appropriately. The experience of the SGP
is that Koffmann used information obtained through contact with
the Germans, wherever possible, to discredit them.
worked for more than thirty years in the field, always badly equipped
and often alone. This deserves great admiration and respect, particularly
for a woman in an Islamic society. But the foregoing and other
experiences lead necessarily to questions about her working methods,
results and exhibits. How did these come about and what do they
consist of? Here are some comments.
For further informations on that expedition see: Almasty 92: New findings, additions and corrections.