Thursday, April 21, 2011

Gagarin in London

By New Worker correspondent

DOZENS of people from left-wing progressive groups, the world of art and literature and the London Russian community last Thursday gathered at the headquarters of the Society for Cooperation in Russian and Soviet Studies (SCRSS) last Thursday to mark the opening of a photographic exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s historic flight into space, on 12th April 1961.
The exhibition included Soviet posters marking the achievement of the first person to travel into space and orbit the earth, as well as pictures of Gagarin’s later visit to London, when he met all manner of dignitaries, dined with the Queen but also called in at the Kensington headquarters of the Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR – the forerunner of the SCRSS.
There Gagarin met, among others, the young poet and playwright Bernard Kops, who was present again last Thursday to read out the poem he had presented to Yuri Gagarin 50 years ago.
The gathering also saw a video presentation of Gagarin’s career before he be came the first man in space. He had not been an academic but had followed a vocational career as an engineer working in the production of farm machinery.
They also heard a recording of his first message from space – a message of peace for the whole world at the height of imperialism’s Cold War propaganda.
The British Council is to erect a statue to Yuri Gagarin outside their headquarters in the Mall – an exact copy of one in his home town. It will be unveiled in July to coincide with the anniversary of Gagarin’s visit to Britain but will be on display only for six months – unless there is enough public interest to warrant keeping it there longer.
The photo exhibition will run until 21st May at the SCRSS headquarters at 320 Brixton Road, London SW9. Phone 020 7274 2282 in advance for details or visit

photo:Bernard Kops reading his poem to Gagarin

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