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Wednesday, 1 April, 1998, 08:02 GMT 09:02 UK
A Space Victory
Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Gagarin - the world's first cosmonaut
After the flight, the Soviet Union paid its official thanks to the man who had become its most famous son.

Gagarin
Touching the man who had touched the stars
Gagarin's victorious six-hour parade through Red Square, through a sea of people, was the greatest public relations success the Russians had ever enjoyed.

The parade ended with a standing ovation at the Mausoleum. The only slip-up was when the First Cosmonaut's shoelace came undone, dragging along behind him as he strode in triumph to meet General-Secretary Kruschev.

Yuri Gagarin was an anomaly within the Soviet system. No single person was supposed to be greater than the collective whole. But Gagarin was more than just an emblem.

Gagarin
A hero of the Soviet Republic
Gagarin's speeches from the time reflect his status as the greatest hero of the Soviet Republic.

"The flight of the Soviet rocket Vostok 1 not only opened a new belief in the cosmos. It also showed that we were a peaceful nation and promoted Soviet ideals to all people."

His famous smile travelling the world, Gagarin became an international superstar. Kruschev recognised, and used to Soviet advantage, Gagarin had tremendous propaganda value.

See also:

01 Apr 98 | Gagarin
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