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    GAGARIN, March 9, 2004 - RIA Novosti. The world's first cosmonaut Yury Gagarin would have turned 70 today; meanwhile his 70-th birth anniversary is now being celebrated at his birthplace.

    A large delegation of Russian cosmonauts headed by Alexei Leonov, who performed the first space walk in history in the spring of 1965, arrived in the city of Gagarin, which is located in the Central federal district. A number of State Duma members, as well as famous actors, also came to Gagarin, laying flowers at a monument to the parents of the most famous space traveller in the world.

    Young pilots-cosmonauts from the cosmonaut-training center arrived in Klushino village, which is Gagarin's birthplace, drinking water from a well near his house in line with a long-standing tradition. Other guests from Moscow and Stellar Town are conducting lessons in memory of Gagarin at city schools; some of them are organizing meetings at local museums and enterprises.

    Exhibitions of paintings by Russian and Belarussian artists, i.e. the "Breath Of Space" exhibition and "Gagarin's Spring", are to be opened during the celebrations; a national unarmed-combat championship will also take place; moreover, a revamped railroad station will be commissioned, as well.

    The 31-st Gagarin international readings are to open at the local Komsomolets movie theater and concert hall in a solemn setting this evening, lasting four consecutive days. This conference will involve scientists and members of the public at large.

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