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    SMOLENSK, March 12, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The all-Russia philatelic exhibition "Ad Astra-2004" dedicated to the 70th birth anniversary of the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin opens in Smolensk (Central Federal District) on Friday. The Smolensk region is Gagarin's birthplace.

    Over 100 Russian and CIS stamp collectors are to participate in the exhibition, the Smolensk regional department of the Russian Union of Philatelists said.

    Collections of Soviet cosmonauts Viktor Gorbatko ("Space Mail"), Viktor Savinykh ("Mail of the participant in space expeditions on orbital stations Salyut-6, Salyut-7 and Mir") and Anatoly Solovyov ("Letters of five Mir expeditions) will be the highlights of the exhibition.

    Pictures by space artists, cosmonauts Alexei Leonov and Vladimir Dzhanibekov will be exhibited, as well.

    According to organizers, these pictures will give the exhibition a unique coloring and show the romance of space exploration.

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