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Space Conference Erases Name of Yuri Gagarin From Event Claiming to ‘Celebrate Human Achievements’

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Yuri Gagarin Utopian Magazine
© AP Photo / Alexander Zemlianichenko

Western states have enacted sanctions on Russia since it launched a special operation in Ukraine, and they have not been confined to only financial and trade restrictions. Along with artists, both living and long-deceased, numerous competitions have imposed vindictive bans to make sure that nothing Russian, even cats and trees, avoids punishment.

The Space Foundation, an American non-profit organisation founded in 1983, has renamed its Yuri‘s Night fundraiser, named in honour of the first man to travel into space, celebrated Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, “in light of current world events“.

“The focus of this fundraising event remains the same — to celebrate human achievements in space while inspiring the next generation to reach for the stars”, the foundation reportedly explained in a statement.

The message was later deleted, but the official name of the event was changed to “A Celebration of Space: Discover What’s Next”.

The Space Symposium takes place every spring at the Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs (USA). This year the event, which includes various seminars, lectures, forums, auctions, and other activities, is expected to take place from 4 to 7 April.

So far, only one Yuri’s Night event has been renamed. The event usually takes place every year in hundreds of locations all around the world. It’s yet unknown how many of these events will take place this year and whether any of them will change their name in addition to the one that hosts the Space Symposium.

The decision has shocked not only people from the space industry, but also ordinary users, who have called the action “really dumb”.

“Literally the entire point of Yuri’s Night is to celebrate achievements in space across cultures and nations. Also, Russia isn’t the USSR???”, another user wrote.

The NASA Watch account on Twitter called it a “bad idea”, with users commenting that it’s “too bad the @SpaceFoundation’s racial and ethnic biases lead it to deny the story”.

“I wonder how this idea would poll among humans who have seen the Earth from orbit”, another noted.

Users react to space conference erasing the name of Yuri Gagarin from event that “celebrates human achievements”.

© Photo : Twitter / @TCC_Hatfield

Users react to space conference erasing the name of Yuri Gagarin from event that “celebrates human achievements”.

© Photo : Twitter / @Raul_Figuer

Users react to space conference erasing the name of Yuri Gagarin from event that “celebrates human achievements”.

© Photo : Twitter / @PazzyJ

Aside from the Space Foundation event, controversy over the “cancellation” of Yuri Gagarin also erupted in Luxemburg’s Mondorf-les-Bains, where a monument to him was covered up with fabric. According to the city’s mayor, he was contacted by a group of people who demanded the removal of the bust. He justified the decision to hide the monument so as to “end the discussions and protect the bust from potential vandalism”.

The mayor also said that there is “little use” in removing the memorial and it would not happen in the future. He noted that “it is clear that the invasion cannot be supported, but that Yuri Gagarin is surely not to blame for it, nor is Russian art”.

Last year, the State Department failed to mention Gagarin in a Facebook post commemorating the 60th anniversary of the first man in space, which was slammed by the Russian Embassy as a distortion of history. It was not clear whether US officials forgot or simply were not aware that the UN General Assembly declared 12 April the International Day of Human Space Flight in memory of the Soviet cosmonaut.

Enri Mato is an urban architect and photographer born in 1986 into a family of artists. His father was a sculptor and his mother was a restorer, who worked at the Louvre Museum in Paris. He grew up in Tirana, where he discovered his interest in photography and art at an early age.