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Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC

July 22, 2003, 6:59AM
Houston Chronicle

Official: Russian cosmonaut promises not to marry in space

MOSCOW -- International space station cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko has
promised the Russian space agency to cancel his plan to get married
while in orbit, an agency spokesman said today. 

The promise came after officials explained that the plan presented an
assortment of legal complexities, said Sergei Gorbunov, a spokesman for
Rosaviakosmos, the national aerospace agency. 

Malenchenko's intention to marry Ekaterina Dmitriev, an American
citizen, on Aug. 10 while he is still aboard the spaceship caught the
agency by surprise when he told an official about it recently, Gorbunov
said: "The official nearly fell from his chair when he heard that." 

"We haven't barred him from doing that, we simply told him that it was
unclear how he could do that from the point of Russian law," Gorbunov
told The Associated Press. "He gave it a thought and said that he would
wait until October" when the current space station crew is set to return
to Earth. 

Under Russian law, Malenchenko, a Russian air force colonel, is
considered the holder of state secrets and can marry a foreigner only
after getting permission from his superiors, Gorbunov said. The secrecy
rules, which date back from the Soviet times, could theoretically force
a person to wait for five or even 10 years to get such permission, he

According to the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, Russian air force chief
Col.-Gen. Vladimir Mikhailov was angered by Malenchenko's plans and said
that a "cosmonaut mustn't behave like a movie star." 

Malenchenko, who blasted off to the station in late April together with
American astronaut Edward Lu, had quietly arranged to have his tail coat
and wedding ring flown to him aboard a Progress cargo ship that arrived
at the station in June. 

Malenchenko and Dmitriev were issued a marriage license last week in the
state of Texas, which allows weddings in which one of the parties is not

Dmitriev left Russia for the United States with her parents when she was
3 and lives in Houston. The two met at a social gathering five years ago
and began dating in 2002.
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