As part of the preparations for the resumption of the activities of the Egypt-Russia Cultural Year 2020, which will extend into 2021 due to the coronavirus shutdowns, the bust of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, was unveiled at the Egyptian Space Agency in New Cairo on Tuesday.
Mohamed El-Qoussi, CEO of the Egyptian Space Agency, Georgiy Borisenko, Russia's ambassador to Egypt and its representative to the Arab League, and Alexey Tevanyan, director of the Russian Cultural Centers in Egypt, unveiled the bust of Gagarin at the ceremony.
The bust of the cosmonaut was created by sculptor Alexey Leonov and dedicated to Egypt by the Russian government on the initiative of the Russian Cultural Centre in Cairo and the International Russian Charitable Fund, which operates under the slogan “Dialogue of Cultures - One World.”
The ceremony, which was attended by a number of Russian scientists and diplomats and the Egyptian and Russian media, included a presentation of a documentary film in Arabic about Gagarin’s visit to Egypt, where he received the Order of the Nile from President Gamal Abdel-Nasser. Part of the ceremony was also a photo exhibition on the achievements of Russian space exploration, and a presentation on the activities of the Egyptian Space Agency by the agency's Deputy CEO Mohamed El-Iraqi.
During the ceremony, El-Qoussi emphasised the strength of Egyptian-Russian relations, citing the Aswan High Dam and some of the facilities that were completed during the 1960s, in addition to the support of Russia in the October War, and the recent co-projects such as the Dabaa Nuclear Plant.
For his part, Borisenko expressed his hope that the statue of Gagarin in Egypt would become another symbol of friendship between the Russian and Egyptian peoples, and expressed his thanks to the Egyptian people who hold good memories of the astronaut and the era of close partnership between the two countries. "Russia and Egypt today are still developing close cooperation between them, and making new accomplishments through joint cooperation," he said.
Tevanyan conveyed a greeting from Ruslan Bayramov, head of the Russian International Charitable Fund, who referred to the symbolic meaning of the inauguration of the statue during the year celebrating Egyptian-Russian humanitarian cooperation.
Gagarin, born in 1934, was a Soviet Union pilot who became the first man in space in 1961, orbiting the earth on board the Vostok 1 capsule.
He died in 1968 while piloting a jet that crashed. His body was cremated and his ashes interred in the walls of the Kremlin.