The Corner

Putin Brings Back Stalinist Medal for May Day

Russian president Vladimir Putin has reintroduced an old Soviet-era medal this May Day. In a ceremony in St. Petersburg today he bestowed a Hero of Labor award on a coal miner, a lathe operator, a brain surgeon, an agronomist, and the director of the Mariinsky theater.

The Hero of Socialist Labor award was established by Stalin in 1938 to honor Soviet citizens for Stakhanovite feats of labor, as well as for cultural or scientific contributions to the state. Stalin himself was the first recipient. Putin’s version drops the word “socialist” from the title and replaces the old sickle-and-hammer insignia of the lapel pin with a Russian eagle.

Putin called the reintroduction of the medal “a step towards resuming the continuity of traditions, tighter ties between eras and generations.”

At a press conference last week, Putin denied that there were “any elements of Stalinism” in modern-day Russia, but insisted that “this does not mean that we should not have order and discipline.”

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