MOSCOW -- First it was the Soviet national anthem. Then it was the Soviet military parades. Now it is the Soviet lapel pins glorifying heroic work for the motherland.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has once again tapped into Soviet nostalgia by awarding Soviet era "Hero of Labor" stars to Russians in return for their laudable deeds. It is the first time the medals have been bestowed since they were discontinued in 1991.
The honorary award was presented to five Russians during a televised ceremony in St. Petersburg on May 1 to mark the Russian national holiday celebrating "Spring and Labor Day," the successor to the Soviet "International Workers' Day."
Mariinsky Theater director Valery Gergiev received the medal along with a veteran farm machinery operator, a neurosurgeon, a coal miner, and a lathe worker.
In March, Putin reinstated the award -- set up under Josef Stalin in 1927 -- with a presidential decree , ostensibly aiming to "raise the public worth and prestige of selfless and honest work."
Although the design of the new medals resembles that of their predecessors, it has undergone something of a makeover. Whereas the pin's five-pointed star once displayed the hammer and sickle, the new version is adorned with a double-headed eagle and is embossed with the words "Hero of Labor of the Russian Federation" on the reverse side.
The medal is worn on the left lapel, above all other state awards, according to the Kremlin website.