The mysterious site seen on Google Maps shows what appears to be the lightly colored imprint of a star inside a circle, loosely defined by rows of trees. One of its points faces due south, the orientation frequently ascribed to Satanism.
The large shape is located on the southern shore of the Upper Tobol Reservoir. The closest human settlement is Lisakovsk city, 20 kilometers to the east.
(It's unclear, though, who has highlighted the outlines of the pentagram on Google Maps with thick white lines when seen from farther out, and then with dotted white lines when viewers close in on the shape, although the natural contours of the symbol can clearly be seen behind the shading. The latest stories are also not the first time the site has been reported on. An English-language blog about Russia first ran its report way back in 2009.)
It is easy to see why the formation has sparked the imaginations of conspiracy theorists. After all, the pentagram is most commonly used by contemporary pagan religious movements. Additionally Christians, Freemasons, Mesopotamians, Wiccans, and followers of the Greek mathematician Pythagoras have also used the ancient symbol for their own devices at various times.
A report by LiveScience argues that the symbol, which is 366 meters wide, could be a remnant from the Soviet times. The website quotes Emma Usmanova, a local archaeologist, as saying the pentagram is, in fact, the outline of a park that was constructed in the shape of the Soviet star.
A less sober analysis can be found on the website of controversial conspiracy theorist and radio host Alex Jones -- Infowars -- which picked up on what it calls the "occult" symbol. The article* -- from "The Vigilant Citizen" website and reposted by Infowars -- offers a detailed explanation of how the pentagram is used in ritualistic magic and resembles the logo of the Church of Satan. Its story points out that "Russia used a five-pointed star as one of its symbols, not a pentagram inside a circle."
This is not the first time that a peculiar Google Maps image has attracted attention. Two huge diamonds inside two overlapping circles, found on a Google Earth image taken above the deserts of New Mexico, also became a source of conjecture by conspiracy theorists.
*CORRECTED: Thanks to a reader comment, we have corrected this article to note that the article reposted by Alex Jones originally appeared on "The Vigilant Citizen."
-- Deana Kjuka