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12 April 2024, 15:55

Lukashenko, Putin meet with Vasilevskaya, Novitsky in Kremlin

MOSCOW, 12 April (BelTA) – Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin are meeting with member of the prime crew of Visiting Expedition 21 Marina Vasilevskaya and cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky in the Kremlin, BelTA has learned. 

It is symbolic that the meeting with the cosmonauts of Belarus and Russia is taking place on Cosmonautics Day. Marina Vasilevskaya and Oleg Novitsky have recently returned from the International Space Station. This event is particularly significant for Belarus as Marina Vasilevskaya was the first cosmonaut in the history of independent Belarus. On the ISS, Marina Vasilevskaya  conducted a series of studies for Belarusian science.


Vladimir Putin congratulated the cosmonauts and other people working in this field on Cosmonautics Day.

Aleksandr Lukashenko once again expressed gratitude to the Russian side for cooperation and support in the field of space.

“This is nothing new for you, but this is a big deal for us, because our first female cosmonaut flew into space. The first cosmonaut of independent Belarus. And Oleg is also ours: he was born near Minsk. His mother lives there, we have met recently. This is symbolic. Therefore I am very grateful to you. I am saying this not because you are hosting me. Had you not given the go-ahead then, this flight would not have happened. Thank you for Marina and thank you for Oleg being the commander of this flight. This is what our unity is about: he was born in Belarus, served in the Soviet Union (pilot, test pilot), became a cosmonaut in Russia,” the president noted.

The head of state noted that Belarusians are not new to cosmonautics. The president has closely studied this field: he has visited various cosmodromes and  institutions in various countries, examined technical aspects of cosmonautics.
 
“Belarus and Russia are working very seriously on joint programs. We are running satellite programs together. We have preserved satellite production factories since Soviet times. We are working together with Russians. Now we have manned flights. I told Vladimir Vladimirovich that we will continue our collaborations. He upheld this idea yesterday,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.
 
“Optics are on you,” Vladimir Putin remarked.
 
“Sure thing. Our optics, by the way, are not worse than in the West. Therefore, we have agreed to work together, this includes flying into space, we will work in the training center [for cosmonauts] and in other places where our pilots are trained,” the Belarusian leader added.
 
“I congratulate you on your return to Earth,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said addressing the cosmonauts. “You gave us a hard time, especially me: when the rocket didn’t launch from the first attempt, I had a very bad feeling. But my apprehensions faded away. Everything turned out well. Everything is fine, everything worked. You returned on time, carried out the necessary experiments. I think that we will see more joint flights of Russians and Belarusians moving forward,” the president said.

 
Plans are truly ambitious: in the coming years Russia plans to launch the first module of its orbital station. This will open up great prospects for cooperation between Belarus and Russia.
 
Oleg Novitsky emphasized that fraternal and allied relations between the two states are worth a lot. According to him, the training of the Belarusian cosmonauts went well: according to the instructors, both women worked very hard. “Marina was absolutely up to the task,” the cosmonaut said.

He also wished the presidents Happy Cosmonautics Day and thanked them for their contribution to the development of this industry in Belarus and Russia. "It is very gratifying that our equipment is really the most reliable. Alexei Ovchinin landed safely after a booster rocket failed after launch. In our case the launch was aborted automatically: Marina had a pulse of 66. Everybody was cool. Tracy [crew member, NASA astronaut Tracy Dyson] was calm. Our equipment does not fail," Oleg Novitsky said. 

Marina Vasilevskaya admitted that she was happy to become the first cosmonaut in the history of sovereign Belarus. "I tried my best to complete the program 100% and even more. Flying into space is an outstanding event for our country. I would like to continue my space career. I am happy, glad and proud that this project has become a reality."

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