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Putin restores Soviet 'Hero of Labour' title

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday restored an honorary Hero of Labour title that was first awarded in the Lenin era to workers who outperformed their Communist work quotas.

The Russian leader -- a former KGB agent who once called the dissolution of the Soviet Union one of the great tragedies of the 20th century -- signed a presidential decree restoring the famous title that disappeared when the USSR fell apart in 1991.

"In the Soviet Union, we had a title called the Hero of Socialist Labour, and on the whole, I think this was justified," Putin said in remarks published on the Kremlin website.

"I know that this is the view not only of the machine workers, but of those who generally do things with their hands and use their heads," the 60-year-old president said.

"This is also the view of our leading professional union," he added in reference to the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin signed a decree restoring the title shortly after making those remarks.

The Hero of Labour was one of the Soviet Union's most coveted awards and a sign of either a person or factory's commitment to socialist ideals.

The Soviet Union functioned through a strict quota system regulating the amounts of goods that needed to be produced daily by any one person or collective.

Those who consistently outperformed those requirements and were recommended by others were then considered by party leaders for the award.

The Soviet Union eventually crumbled because its economy malfunctioned and the country suffered from shortages of products that people needed but were never produced -- or done so in insufficient numbers.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130329/putin-restores-soviet-hero-labour-title