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Podcast: Yury Gagarin, Soviet Pop Culture Inspiration; A Noted Director Goes 'Way Back'; Kyrgyzstan Navigates Rough Waters

All dressed up and one place to go: Yury Gagarin aboard his "Vostok" spacecraft

All dressed up and one place to go: Yury Gagarin aboard his "Vostok" spacecraft

In this week's show, we look at the legacy of Soviet cosmonaut Yury Gagarin, whose historic space flight 50 years ago gave the USSR an early lead in the space race and catapulted the genial Gagarin into the international limelight. Claire Bigg has the story.

Daisy Sindelar
Gagarin was more than just an astronaut -- he was also the inspiration for some of the best in Soviet pop culture. We talk to RFE producer Pavel Butorin about some of the greatest music dedicated to Gagarin and the Soviet space program.

We also catch up with Australian director Peter Weir, whose latest film, "The Way Back," looks at the dramatic escape of World War II-era prisoners from a Siberian labor camp and their subsequent 4,000-mile trek to freedom. His latest work, Weir told writer at large Jamie Kirchik, gave him a chance to reflect on the human toll of communism.

And finally, we look at the demonstrations that rocked the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan a year ago -- on April 7, 2010. Those demonstrations led to the ouster of President Kurmanbek Bakiev. But as Farangis Najibullah reports, they also resulted in the deaths of 90 people, leading many Kyrgyz to wonder if their democratically minded country has taken a turn for the worse.

This week's host is Daisy Sindelar.

Listen to or download the latest episode below or subscribe to "The Blender" on iTunes. For previous episodes, click here.

RFE/RL's The Blender -- 4/8/11

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