Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs a session of the organising committee for the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s space flight
22 december 2009
Mr Putin's opening remarks:
Good afternoon, distinguished colleagues and friends.
In 2011, the entire world will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first manned space flight, which was accomplished by our compatriot, Yuri Gagarin.
The liftoff of the Vostok is one of the great events not only of the 20th century, but of the entire history of civilization. The breakthrough into space will forever remain a symbol of human courage and striving for knowledge and progress. And this event was a true national triumph for our country that united the entire nation at the time.
And it was our country, which had lived through a devastating world war and the direst of hardships and tribulations, that was able to realise this unprecedented project. It was realised thanks to the abilities and efforts of thousands of people - scientists, designers, engineers, workers and military personnel.
We should remember their exploits and pass on this pride and legacy to future generations. Therefore, I consider it our collective duty to celebrate this anniversary properly, which we should also do for the Year of Space Exploration, which will be held in Russia in 2011.
Today at the session of the organizing committee we need to examine the plan for the anniversary events. I am not going to enumerate all of the points of this plan, but I will highlight the main and essential tasks on which we need to concentrate.
First. We, of course, do not need overly official and formal celebrations. We need to set a sincere and proper tone and make the forthcoming festivities genuinely interesting for people both in Russia and abroad, because Gagarin's mission is a legacy for all of civilisation.
Accordingly, the international component must become an important part of the work. It would be most expedient to involve Russian missions abroad and our compatriots living in CIS countries in the work. All the more so since they have already offered to help.
And, of course, I ask you to work more closely with our partners in international space programs.
Second. We should pay particular attention to the educational aspects. Space research is one of the most high-tech, science-intensive sectors. And a large-scale celebration of Yuri Gagarin's space flight will not only draw attention to space-related subjects, but will generally increase the prestige of science and innovation, and demonstrate the importance and prospects for development in these areas, which is particularly important for young people.
Third. It's obvious that the main events will be held in places historically connected with the first manned space flight. I am referring primarily to the Smolensk, Kaluga and Saratov regions, as well as to Korolyov, Baikonur and Moscow.
Moreover, taking into consideration the importance of the anniversary, there should be programmes involving practically all of the regions of the Russian Federation. This is a task for both local governments and regional educational systems. We should also take greater advantage of the capabilities of public youth organisations.
And there is another aspect that I would like to draw your attention to, distinguished friends. Unfortunately, the history of space exploration is prone to falsification - some facts are deliberately distorted and others are suppressed.
Even in Russian shops you can buy books and educational software for children in which there is no mention at all of the launch of the first man-made Earth's satellite or Gagarin's flight, but Mr von Braun, who created the Faustpatrone, or the lunar landing (which, naturally, is also one of humankind's greatest achievements) are outlined in great detail.
The 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's space flight is an opportunity to once again persuasively remind the global community of the key role that Russia plays in space exploration and of the significance of Russia's space programme for all of humanity.
Therefore, I consider it necessary to engage Russian media resources to the fullest, including press publications, the Internet, television. And, of course, we need to once again attentively analyse the quality of textbooks used in our schools.
Finally, in closing, the series of proposed events will require targeted funding. Accordingly, I will instruct the Finance Ministry and the Economic Development Ministry to resolve the issue of finding the necessary funds within two months.
The planners, for their part, should examine the plan attentively - as attentively as possible - and perfect it, taking into account today's remarks and amendments and providing financial justification for each point of the plan.
I want to stress that funding from the federal budget will be allocated only for the high-profile events.
Let's get down to work.