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Hero of the Russian Federation

Related subjects: Military History and War

Background Information

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Obverse of the "Gold Star" medal

Hero of the Russian Federation (Russian: Герой Российской Федерации, Geroy Rossiyskoy Federatsii) is a Russian decoration and the highest honorary title that can be bestowed on a citizen by the Russian Federation. The President of the Russian Federation is the main conferring authority of the medal, which is bestowed on those committing actions or deeds that involve conspicuous bravery while in the service of the state. It has been presented about 750 times since its creation, primarily to cosmonauts or to those involved with military action in the region of Chechnya. Several artists, politicians, economists and athletes have also been awarded the title.


The title was created from a decree issued by Russian President Boris Yeltsin on March 20 1992, replacing the Soviet titles Hero of the Soviet Union and Hero of Socialist Labor. Decree № 2553-I contained the criteria for the title (see below) and the design of a " Gold Star" medal that accompanies the title. Article 71 of the Constitution of Russia permits titles, orders and medals to be presented by the government, and Article 89 gives the Russian president power to create state awards. This is the highest honour that can be presented by the Russian president to anyone. Unlike the Soviet hero titles, there are no other medals or orders that are presented with the Russian hero title.


Decree № 2553-I states that the title can be awarded to a person who performs a heroic deed while in the service of the state and the people. Both civilians and military personnel can receive the award. The title can also be awarded posthumously if the heroic act costs the recipient his or her life. The medal has been awarded posthumously approximately 340 times, primarily to people involved in the first and second wars in Chechnya. The last known awarding was made on December 21, 2006 to Alexander Klimov by President Vladimir Putin.

Design and display

The design of the Gold Star medal (медаль "Золотая Звезда") was set out in Decree № 2553-I and is similar to that of the medal for the Soviet title Hero of the Soviet Union. The ribbon that is used on a rectangle (boot-tree) suspension device is sized 19.5  mm high by 15  mm wide and is colored white, blue, and red. The design of the ribbon was based on the flag of Russia. The pentagonal star that is suspended from the boot-tree device has a diameter of 15 mm and does not have any design on the front. On the reverse, the words "Hero of Russia" (Герой России) appear in a 2x4 mm convex font, and a 1 mm serial number is placed in the top ray. The serial number shows how many times the award has been presented (i.e. SN 164 indicates that the medal was the 164th one bestowed). On the reverse of the boot-tree device, there is a fastening device that consists of a pin and hook, which is used to affix the medal to clothing. The medal itself is made out of gold and weighs about 21.5 grams.

When the medal is worn in public, it is worn on the left side of the suit jacket above all other medals and decorations of Russia and the Soviet Union. The medal is always worn in full, so there is no ribbon bar that can be worn in place of it. There have been occasions where those who were awarded this title also wear their Soviet titles, such as Hero of the Soviet Union or Hero of Socialist Labor, together with the Gold Star medal of the Russian title.


The majority of recipients of the title fall into two categories: participants in the Chechnya conflicts or cosmonauts. While each cosmonaut that goes into space automatically receives the title, those who were awarded for service in Chechnya usually receive their titles for either heroism in combat or for leading the pro- Moscow government. On some occasions, the person who was awarded the title was killed while in the course of duty. This includes those killed in battle as well as assassinated government officials. An example of such a recipient was Akhmad Kadyrov, the former governor of Chechnya. The pro-Moscow leader was killed in a bomb attack during the 2004 Victory Day parade in the Chechen capital of Grozny. Several days after Akhmad was killed, President Vladimir Putin awarded him the title. Some time after the incident, Putin awarded Kadyrov's son, Ramzan, the same title for his work in Chechnya.

All Russian cosmonauts are awarded the title of Hero of the Russian Federation following their voyage into space; some may already have earned it, for example for long service as a test pilot. Cosmonauts are also awarded the title Pilot-Cosmonaut of the Russian Federation. Some recipients of the title, such as Sergey Krikalev, had also received the Soviet hero title, along with the Order of Lenin. Most of the cosmonaut double heroes were awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union and Hero of Russia titles "for successful realization of flight and the courage and heroism shown."

Outside of those two groups, athletes and other civilian and military officials have also received the title. One such case was submarine captain Gennady Lyachin, the captain of the Kursk, which sank after an explosion in 2000. Due to his heroism during the explosion and his attempts at preserving the lives of the crew, Lyachin was posthumously awarded the title, and the members of his crew were awarded with the Order of Courage. Athlete Larisa Lazutina was presented with the title for various medals won at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. However, Lazutina was disqualified from the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States because of a positive result in a drug test. Another athlete, Alexander Karelin, was honored with the title for his Olympic success in wrestling. On January 10 2008 the title was awarded to three of Arktika 2007 expedition members, who performed the first ever descent to the ocean bottom at the North Pole, Anatoly Sagalevich, Yevgeny Chernyaev and Artur Chilingarov "for courage and heroism showed in extremal conditions and successful completion of High-Latitude Arctic Deep-Water Expedition."

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