The enigma of Sergei Ponomarenko first made headlines in 2006, but it has recently resurfaced as some TikTokers have been picking it apart to find holes in it.
In 2006, Ponomarenko turned up in Kyiv in anachronistic clothes and carrying an antique camera, saying he came straight from decades prior.
His version puzzled the police officers he'd asked for directions - he was looking to go to a street which didn't exist in modern-day Kyiv, obviously.
He told authorities he was born in 1932 and certainly looked like he just woke up in a different era, though a dated outfit and a vintage camera weren't enough to take him at face value.
Arrested and transferred to a psychiatric ward, Ponomarenko was questioned. Despite the incredible premise, he held a Soviet document from the 1950s, which he explained showed he was the age of 25. This was one of the most convincing elements to his story, together with the pictures obtained from his camera.
A photography expert was brought in to develop the film. The images showed pictures of Kyiv from a previous decade which seemed compatible with the 1950s. They also showed Ponomarenko in the same outfit he was wearing at the time of the arrest, posing together with a young woman who he said was his fiancée. Finally, the pictures included one snap of what Ponomarenko claimed was a UFO, flying near a building.
The plot thickened when the authorities looked for records of missing people and found a Sergei Ponomarenko reported missing in 1958. And the woman in the pictures with him, then in her 70s, confirmed that her then-fiancé went missing for two years and reappeared in the 1950s.
She added another fascinating piece to the puzzle: she had received a picture from 2050 showing an older Ponomarenko standing in front of what was purported to be a futuristic-looking Kyiv's skyline.
In true sci-fi fashion, the self-proclaimed time-traveller seemingly vanished into thin air before he could be questioned again. It seems Ponomarenko left his room at the facility he was at, though there was no record of him leaving through the door - the only point of access and exit.
While all of this sounds tempting to believe, YouTuber Joe Scott has debunked Ponomarenko's account in one of his videos.
Scott found the pictures developed from Ponomarenko's camera appeared 'cloned' by some images used in an episode of Ukrainian TV show Aliens, featuring a time-travelling plot.
While he and his team couldn't find the original images and the footage used in the TV series, it seems that the reenacted material created for the episode looked very similar to that supporting Ponomarenko's account.
Still, it was fun while it lasted, I suppose.Featured Image Credit: Creative Commons