Russian authorities say a mini-submarine plumbing the depths of Lake Baikal has found several shiny metal objects that could be evidence of the legendary Czarist gold lost nearly a century ago during the country's civil war.
Explorers discovered the metal objects - described as resembling gold bullion - 400 meters below Lake Baikal's surface Monday. Attempts so far, however, to pick up the objects with a mechanical arm have failed.
Explorers have long been hunting for the treasure, some 1,600 tons of gold allegedly carried by the White Army of Admiral Alexander Kolchak as it fled the advancing Red Army during the 1918-1921 civil war.
The admiral, portrayed in a 2008 Russian film of the same name, led the pro-Czarist White Army against the Bolsheviks after the October revolution of 1917.
One version of the legendary disappearance has Admiral Kolchak's troops freezing to death in temperatures of of minus-60 degrees Celsius in the winter of 1919-1920 as they fled across the lake with the treasure. Under that story line, the imperial gold sank to the bottom of the vast lake, which contains a full 20 percent of the world's fresh water, when the Spring thaw finally arrived.
Another version of the disappearance places the gold at lake bottom after the admiral's train plunged from a trestle into the lake. Some substance was added to the train scenario, when explorers found the remains of train wheels from the civil war era in an area of the lake currently being searched.
Critics of the Lake Baikal scenario include those who contend that Admiral Kolchak secretly shipped the gold to Japan during the war, in exchange for military hardware.