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19 March 2024, 11:47

Lukashenko invites Novitsky, Vasilevskaya to visit him after returning from space 

MINSK, 19 March (BelTA) – Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko invited cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Marina Vasilevskaya to visit him after returning from the space flight. The head of state promised to treat them to his signature salad. On 19 March, the Belarusian president videoconferenced with the cosmonauts who are currently at Baikonur, BelTA has learned.

“I would like you to get along. After all, you hail from the same place, your roots are here [Oleg Novitsky is a native of Belarus]. We will worry about you a lot and we hope to see you after you come back. Oleg, we will cook our traditional salad [“Youth. Anti-Covid” salad that the head of state had cooked with Oleg Novitsky during one of their in-person meetings]. We will also give it to Marina. We will teach her how to cook our salad,” the president said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko started the conversation with a question to crew commander Oleg Novitsky: “Oleg, I have a question to you: How are you and our spacefarer feeling?”

According to Oleg Novitsky, Marina Vasilevskaya’s morale is very high; she is calm and focused on her work and her tasks. “Thank you very much for choosing Marina,” he said.

Although the conversation touched upon serious things, the atmosphere of the discussion was very friendly and relaxed. Everyone was in a good mood and joked a lot. “Oleg, I have one favor to ask of you (the station has an American segment): make sure that the Americans will not snatch her into their segment,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.

“She will go there and leave with me by her side,” Oleg Novitsky promised.

“Yes, please! Keep your eyes on her! We need her on Earth,” answered the president.

“Of course. We’ll bring her back safe and sound,” the crew commander assured.

Marina Vasilevskaya shared her emotions and feelings with the head of state. “Of course, I am a bit anxious, since I am a young woman, and this is my first experience of this kind. But I have a very seasoned, reliable commander, and he gives me much confidence,” Marina Vasilevskaya noted. “I have the support of instructors, teachers, and my supervisor Ivan Nikolaevich Bucha [Deputy Head of the Aerospace Activities Department of the National Academy of Sciences Ivan Bucha] is always here to cheer me up”.

The Belarusian said that she is also supported by the crew, including NASA astronaut Tracy Dyson, who will also go to the ISS: “Tracy is very supportive, too. We have very good, friendly relations in the crew. We effectively work as a whole. This is what keeps me going. I am driven by responsibility to fulfill this program, the tasks, experiments, flight. This gives me confidence and strength.”

“You have a good role model. Stay close to Oleg. He is an experienced person, it is not his first flight into space,” Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked.

Oleg Novitsky spoke about the duration of the upcoming flight. He plans to return to Earth together with Marina Vasilevskaya. “This means that I will see you all soon,” the head of state noted.

“The entire Belarusian part of the crew,” confirmed Oleg Novitsky.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also asked not to lose sight of another Belarusian, the backup Anastasia Lenkova: “We’ll meet and talk about her prospects. She was trained exactly the same way as Marina. Therefore, we should keep her in mind.”

“We will,” the cosmonaut assured.

The president also asked what language Oleg Novitsky and Marina Vasilevskaya spoke with Tracy Dyson. “Mostly a mixture of Russian and English,” said the crew commander.

Answering the president’s clarifying question whether the NASA astronaut knew Russian, Oleg Novitsky said: “Her Russian is not bad. The same as our English.”

Thus, the crew members have no problems with communication, especially with technical language. “I hope that during the 12 days of the joint flight we will teach her some Belarusian phrases,” added the crew commander.

Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that people in Belarus are very anxious about the cosmonauts and Marina Vasilevskaya in particular. “Thank you. I will try my best to complete the entire program. I will not sleep, but I will do everything,” Marina Vasilevskaya responded.

“Sleeping is a must,” the crew commander remarked in a serious tone.

“No, don’t strain yourself too much. Sleep and have some rest,” advised Aleksandr Lukashenko. “You must experience everything. You must know everything. Because people will ask you.”

The head of state was assured that there were no problems, that preparations for the flight were proceeding normally, in accordance with the plan.

“We will be glad if everything goes as planned. We will be looking forward to seeing you again. I want to reiterate: Oleg, take care of her there in space. She is a newcomer. Our girls are beautiful. Americans will certainly have their eyes on them,” the head of state remarked half-jokingly.

“They should not even think of it,” Oleg Novitsky responded.

Marina Vasilevskaya once again thanked the president for the honor to represent the country in the ISS during the upcoming mission that is going to be very important and incredibly interesting: “I will do my best to complete all the work, all the tasks assigned to me.”

“Thank you very much. Sorry for distracting you at these crucial moments. But at least you could have a little break from this colossus [the rocket] that we saw - they were taking it to the launch site. You needed some respite. You should know that you are our people. We will be waiting for you here in Belarus,” the head of state said.

“We know this, Aleksandr Grigorievich. And therefore, we have never doubted that we will complete the entire mission successfully. Thank you very much for supporting the entire crew,” said Oleg Novitsky.

Before ending the conversation, the president remarked: “Thank you. See you soon! Marina, keep your cool. Look at Oleg.”

“Yes, the commander really supports me, absolutely. Therefore, my spirit is strong, and I am ready to fly. Everything will be fine. With God’s help,” answered Marina Vasilevskaya.

“Thank you. You will be close to Him there, so say hello. I also asked Him to be nice to you there. Therefore, good luck and all the best to you,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. 
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