This NYTimes article about the Italian actress Anna Magnani states:

Perhaps the best way to describe her effect on audiences is to quote from a documentary on the Italian actress by the Belgian film maker Chris Vermorcken. In the film, the narrator tells of the first flight into space by the Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin:

''From the cosmos, he sent this message: 'I salute brotherhood, the world of art and Anna Magnani.' ''

Did Yuri Gagarin really mention the Italian actress Anna Magnani in one of his speech?

The reason why I'm asking this question is by doing some research I could only find little mention of this story in English. Most references after a Google search come from Italian websites / newspapers. I checked what I think is the full transcript of Yuri's communication while in space but I couldn't find any reference to this sentence.

Now on why I was checking this information is I was a bit surprised that Yuri was mentioning a Western actress in his speech given the lack of freedom of speech in Soviet Union.

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    @MarkCWallace I've added the full quote from the article, which underscores the hearsay nature of Gagarin's supposed statement. I would be hard-pressed to call it an "existing narrative". Of course, some more research effort from Polk would help the question.
    – Spencer
    Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 13:49
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    @Spencer Preliminary research indicates that this quote only appears in film-related sources so, yes, there may be a reason to question the existing narrative. Just wish Polk had done some spade work... Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 13:54
  • @MarkCWallace I have an idea of what more I'd add to point out the ambiguity, but it's not really my question, and I can't be sure if it's what Polk wants.
    – Spencer
    Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 14:09
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    I was a bit surprised that Yuri was mentioning a Western actress in his speech given the lack of freedom of speech in Soviet Union Your surprise is hardly understandable. She was well-known in the SU, and, in principle, he could have said that. But the point is this story is only told as a kind of an old anecdote (and, most certainly, NYTimes wasn't the primary source of it), and there seems absolutely no evidence to prove it. So I wouldn't expect to get any worthy answer.
    – Matt
    Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 16:21
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    Does seem dubious. The Russian "братства людей, мира искусства, и Анна Маньяни" appears only in a Facebook post.
    – Brian Z
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 15:10

1 Answer 1


The complete transcript of all the communication of Yuri Gagarin with the command center during the flight on April 12, 1961, as well as the transcript of everything Gagarin recorded with the tape recorder he had on board the space ship was published in the Russian language in the official journal of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in April 1991. These materials were declassified on the 30th anniversary of Gagarin's flight. In the transcript Gagarin is mentioned as "Кедр" ("Cedar") which was his code name.

The Russian words братство (brotherhood), искусство (art), Анна (Anna), Маньяни (Magnani) are not found in the transcript. Note that the first three of these words have several different case forms each with their last letter substituted for another ending, but even without the last letter they are not found in the transcript. Маньяни (Magnani), being an Italian surname and ending in -i which is atypical for Russian nouns, never changes its form in Russian, and it is also not found there.

Since Gagarin greeting Magnani from space is mentioned even in the Italian Wikipedia which quotes an Italian newspaper, and also on some Russian-language sites and blogs, I can guess that it is either a complete legend or Gagarin really said it as a joke or a compliment to Italy in an interview. But definitely it was not said out loud during the flight.

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