Speaker of Russian Duma and his deputy are in Havana

The top officials of Russia’s Duma are in Cuba to mark two major events: the 70th anniversary of Victory Day in Europe and the 55th anniversary of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and Cuba, interrupted by Fulgencio Batista.

Sergei Yevgenyevich Naryshkin, Speaker of the Duma, the lower house of Parliament, was to arrive in Havana on Monday (May 4); Deputy Speaker Ivan Melnikov arrived last week and attended the May Day parade on Friday (May 1).

Both men will remain in Cuba until Wednesday (May 6) and meet with government and party officials, including Esteban Lazo Hernández, president of the National Assembly.

They will also attend the opening of the international conference “The Soviet Union and Latin America during World War II and the present,” and will lay wreaths at the monument to José Martí and the memorial to Soviet military men who served and died in Cuba in the 1960s.

Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez, left, and Yuri Romanenko before their space mission in September 1980.
Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez, left, and Yuri Romanenko before their space mission in September 1980.

In addition, they will present the government of Cuba with a bust of Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin, in honor of Cuban astronaut Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez.

Gagarin was the world’s first “kosmonaut”; he orbited the earth on April 12, 1961. Guantánamo-born Tamayo was the first Cuban in space; he and Russian colleague Yuri Romanenko orbited the earth 124 times on a mission that began on Sept. 18, 1980. Tamayo was 38 at the time.

Naryshkin will not have an opportunity to meet with President Raúl Castro, who is currently in Algeria, on his way to Moscow, where he will join the celebrations for Victory Day next Saturday (May 9).

[For a Prensa Latina report on Naryshkin’s visit, in Spanish, click here.]

[Photo at top: Sergei Naryshkin, at left, and Ivan Melnikov at a session of the Russian Duma.]

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