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No new investigation into Gagarin death

March 27, 2008 at 7:44 PM

MOSCOW, March 27 (UPI) -- There is no need for a new investigation into the air crash that killed the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, 40 years ago, a Russian Air Force official said.

The official also rejected calls to reopen the barrels that contain the wreckage of Gagarin's plane, the Novosti news agency reported.

Gagarin and a flight instructor, Vladimir Seryoghin, were both killed during a routine training flight March 27, 1968. The cosmonaut was retraining as a fighter pilot.

The crash, seven years after Gagarin's historic trip into space, has spawned a number of conspiracy theories. One is that Leonid Brezhnev, who then headed the Soviet Union, had him killed out of jealousy, while a Finnish group has suggested that Gagarin never went into space and Soviet officials wanted him dead to preserve the secret.

A 1986 inquest suggested that a jet's afterburners caused turbulence that brought Gagarin's plane down.

Gagarin and his instructor were buried in the Kremlin wall. A town near Smolensk was named in the cosmonaut's honor.

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