Russia observes 75th birth anniversary of Yuri Gagarin
Celebrations on the occasion of the 75th birth anniversary of Yuri Gagarin (1934-1968), the first cosmonaut of the Earth, began in his native city of Gagarin (its name was Gzhatsk prior to 1968).
Hundreds of people came to the central square of the city to take part in a rally, including USSR Pilot Cosmonauts -- Gagarin's friends from the first group of cosmonauts, heads of the Cosmonauts Training Centre and young cosmonauts.
Governor Sergei Antufyev said that the memory about the first cosmonaut was helping them in everyday life. "People of the Smolensk Region will do their best for keeping the memory of that remarkable man," he added.
Participants in the rally laid flowers at the monuments to Yuri Gagarin and his mother, Anna Timofeyevna. By tradition, after that the young cosmonauts went to the village of Klushino, from where the Gagarin family came.
Meetings, concerts and sports competitions, including the All-Russia Tournament in Unarmed Self-Defence, are being held in the city of Gagarin these days. A festival of amateur folk art is one of the events. An inter-regional exhibition of paintings will be opened in the art gallery. A celebration meeting and public readings, devoted to the memory of Yuri Gagarin, will be held in the Palace of Culture.
Cosmonaut #1 was sent to serve at the Northern Fleet after he graduated from the Orenburg Military School. In 1960 he was chosen to join the first group of future cosmonauts. Gagarin was the first to make a manned space flight on board the Vostok spaceship on April 12, 1961. The flight around the Earth took 108 minutes, after which he safely landed in the Saratov Region. He died in an air crash in the Vladimir Region during a training flight on board a Mig-15 fighter plane together with Colonel Vladimir Seryogin on March 27, 1968.