Gold Star

:"For the Israeli beer, see Goldstar.

The Gold Star medal is a special insignia that identifies recipients of the title "Hero" in the Soviet Union and several post-Soviet states.

From 1934 to 1991 it was associated with the title "Hero of the Soviet Union". Since the demise of the Soviet Union, that title has been replaced by successor titles and insignia in some of the now-independent states, such as "Hero of Belarus", "Hero of the Russian Federation" and "Hero of Ukraine".

The Gold Star was established by the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet on August 1, 1939. Previously, Heroes of the Soviet Union were awarded the Order of Lenin and a special diploma (gramota, "грамота") describing the heroic feat. The medal was introduced to distinguish these heroes from other Order of Lenin recipients.

The Gold Star was not normally issued for posthumous awards of the title "Hero of the Soviet Union".

The medal is a gold star hanging a rectangular suspension device with a ribbon in the color(s) of the issuing state (red for the USSR, white/blue/red for the Russian Federation, blue/yellow for Ukraine, red/green for Belarus). It is worn on the left side of the chest above all other orders and medals.

The title and medal are awarded for combat feats and extraordinary achievement in exploration endeavors, so eligibility is open to military servicemen and civilians alike. Non-combat awards include:
*flying achievements (pre-World War Two),
*space exploration (awarded to almost every cosmonaut, Soviet and foreign),
*polar exploration,
*diving and submarine exploration. Combat awards may be for feats during war-time service or during internal security operations within the borders of the USSR or the Russian Federation. Internal counter-terrorism operations, the two Chechen Wars (1994–1996, 1999—), and other "police actions" in the Northern Caucasus, carried out by [MVD|Ministry of Internal Affairs] (MVD) internal troops and militsiya, account for the majority of recent awards by Russia.

Some recipients were awarded the title and insignia multiple times. Someone awarded twice would be styled "Twice Hero of the Soviet Union", and so on. Though about 12,000 people became Heroes of the Soviet Union, only a half-dozen won the award three times, such as World War II pilots Aleksandr Pokryshkin and Ivan Kozhedub [Pokryshkin and Kozhedub were the top-scoring Allied air aces of the war with 59 and 62 kills, respectively.] . Marshal Zhukov received four.

During the Cold War, cosmonauts routinely received the award. As the Soviet Union did not acknowledge its involvement in the Korean War for many years, some awards for that conflict were initially presented as late awards from World War Two. Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and the war against the mujahadeen produced awards for combat operations in the 1980s.

The title and medal lost some prestige when Soviet leaders after Josef Stalin began awarding themselves Gold Stars. The most notorious and dubious "Hero" was Leonid Brezhnev, who accumulated fifteen hero titles over his lifetime:
*4 times Hero of the Soviet Union,
*Hero of Socialist Labour,
*3 times Hero of the German Democratic Republic,
*3 times Hero of the People's Republic of Bulgaria,
*3 times Hero of the Czechoslovak Soviet Socialist Republic, and
*Hero of the People's Republic of Mongolia.


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