Kremlin vetoes new inquiry into mystery death of Yuri Gagarin

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MOSCOW -- The Kremlin has vetoed a move to launch a fresh investigation into the death of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, despite aviation specialists' belief that they have unravelled one of the 20th century's greatest enigmas.

The rebuff comes as Russians celebrate Cosmonauts' Day today, the anniversary of Gagarin's historic flight around the Earth on 12 April 1961. That foray, which lasted just 68 minutes, was a milestone in the space race between the Soviet Union and the US. But Gagarin was destined to a short, controversial life.

On 27 March 1968, Gagarin died in a mysterious plane crash while on a routine training mission in a MiG-15 with his flight instructor, Vladimir Serugin, just outside Moscow.

The results of the official investigation that followed were hypothetical and did not explain exactly what happened and why...[and] spawned endless conspiracy theories...

But Igor Kuznetsov, an aviation engineer involved in the 1968 investigation, thinks that he and his colleagues have solved the enigma after conducting their own investigation using modern methodology.

In an interview with The Independent, he said he was convinced that Gagarin and Serugin died in a tragic accident and argued that the doomed plane's final movements differed radically from what had previously been thought.

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