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First Ukrainian Cosmonaut Dies

KYIV -- The first Ukrainian cosmonaut, Pavlo Popovich, has died, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Popovich was 78 years old. Friends of Popovich's family told journalists that the cosmonaut died of a stroke in the resort town of Hurzuf in Crimea.

Popovich entered space and orbited the Earth in 1962 -- one year after Yuri Gagarin became the first man to travel into space -- and again in 1974. He was the fourth Soviet cosmonaut.

Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Popovich was a member of the Soviet Supreme Council and later a member of the Ukrainian Supreme Council.

Born on October 30, 1930 in the town of Uzin, Kyiv Oblast, he was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union, the highest honor in the U.S.S.R..