Hero of Ukraine
Hero of Ukraine is the highest state decoration
State decoration
State decorations are orders, medals and other decorations granted by a state. International decorations are similar, but are not granted by a specific nation but rather an international organization....

 that can be conferred upon an individual citizen by the Government of Ukraine
Government of Ukraine
Government of Ukraine is often associated with the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. However it should be considered that Ukraine is a country under a semi-presidential system with separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government...

. The title was created in 1998 by President Leonid Kuchma
Leonid Kuchma
Leonid Danylovych Kuchma was the second President of independent Ukraine from 19 July 1994, to 23 January 2005. Kuchma took office after winning the 1994 presidential election against his rival, incumbent Leonid Kravchuk...

 and as of August 25 2011 the total number of awards is 265. The award is divided into two classes of distinction: one for heroism and the other for achievement in labor. There has been controversy over some of the awards, including allegations that they have either been politically motivated or given to those undeserving of the award.


The origin of the "Hero of Ukraine" award can be traced to the highest decoration
Order (decoration)
An order or order of merit is a visible honour, awarded by a government, dynastic house or international organization to an individual, usually in recognition of distinguished service to a nation or to humanity. The distinction between orders and decorations is somewhat vague, except that most...

s established in the USSR, of which Ukraine
Ukrainian SSR
The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic or in short, the Ukrainian SSR was a sovereign Soviet Socialist state and one of the fifteen constituent republics of the Soviet Union lasting from its inception in 1922 to the breakup in 1991...

 was a constituent republic
Republics of the Soviet Union
The Republics of the Soviet Union or the Union Republics of the Soviet Union were ethnically-based administrative units that were subordinated directly to the Government of the Soviet Union...

: Hero of the Soviet Union
Hero of the Soviet Union
The title Hero of the Soviet Union was the highest distinction in the Soviet Union, awarded personally or collectively for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society.-Overview:...

, established on 16 April 1934, and the Hero of Socialist Labor
Hero of Socialist Labor
Hero of Socialist Labour was an honorary title in the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact countries. It was the highest degree of distinction for exceptional achievements in national economy and culture...

, established on 27 December 1938. Most of the recipients of the former title received it for heroic military action (with Soviet cosmonauts being a notable exception), while those awarded the latter were recognized for their contributions to national economy
Economy of the Soviet Union
The economy of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was based on a system of state ownership of the means of production, collective farming, industrial manufacturing and centralized administrative planning...

 and culture
Culture of the Soviet Union
The Culture of the Soviet Union passed through several stages during the 69 year existence of the Soviet Union. It was contributed by people of various nationalities from every of 15 union republics, although the majority of them were Russians...

. The awards could be given to the same individual more than once, and only the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet
Presidium of the Supreme Soviet
The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet was a Soviet governmental institution – a permanent body of the Supreme Soviets . This body was of the all-Union level , as well as in all Soviet republics and autonomous republics...

 could deprive a recipient of the award once given. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, similar awards were created in the resulting independent countries, including Ukraine.

The title Hero of Ukraine was created on 23 August 1998 with Edict #944/98 by President Leonid Kuchma. Similar in structure to the titles issued by the Soviet Union, the title is awarded in two distinctions: "The Order of the Gold Star" and "The Order of the State". Unlike the Soviet awards, Ukrainian law allows a person to receive a title in each distinction only once, although the person may receive both levels in due course. This means that if a holder of the Order of the State performs a heroic action, he or she can be presented with the Order of the Gold Star. Vice versa, if labor achievements of a holder of the Order of the Gold Star are recognized to be of exceptional value to the nation, the recipient can be eligible to receive the Order of the State. Either of the distinctions can be presented posthumously, and a hero may only have his title removed by the president if they are convicted of a serious crime.


Two medals were created by Ukrainian law to differentiate between the titles. They have several common features; both medals use a ribbon 45 mm (1.8 in) long and 28 mm (1.1 in) wide and are divided equally into two bands along its length, with a blue band on the left and a yellow band on the right, matching the colors of the Ukrainian flag
Flag of Ukraine
The flag of Ukraine is the national flag of Ukraine. The national flag was officially adopted for the first time in 1918 by a short-lived Ukrainian People's Republic. At that time the commonly used yellow–blue flag had already turned into blue and yellow and sported a trident in the upper left...

. Connected to the ribbon is a suspension device joined to a medallion, both of which are made out of gold. On both medals, the name of each decoration and a serial number are engraved on the reverse side of the medallion.

Below the ribbon of the Order of the Gold Star, the golden suspension device contains a small engraving of the trident
A trident , also called a trishul or leister or gig, is a three-pronged spear. It is used for spear fishing and was also a military weapon. Tridents are featured widely in mythical, historical and modern culture. The major Hindu god, Shiva the Destroyer and the sea god Poseidon or Neptune are...

 representing the Ukrainian Coat of Arms
Coat of arms of Ukraine
The state coat of arms of Ukraine or commonly the Tryzub is the national coat of arms of Ukraine, featuring the same colors found on the Ukrainian flag; a blue shield with yellow trident, called the tryzub...

. The medallion is shaped like a five-pointed star 35 mm (1.4 in) wide from one point to the other, and is set within a wreath of oak leaves. Two smaller five-pointed stars are engraved within the larger star. In contrast, the medallion for the Order of the State has the trident of Prince Volodymyr of Kiev
Vladimir I of Kiev
Vladimir Sviatoslavich the Great Old East Slavic: Володимѣръ Свѧтославичь Old Norse as Valdamarr Sveinaldsson, , Vladimir, , Volodymyr, was a grand prince of Kiev, ruler of Kievan Rus' in .Vladimir's father was the prince Sviatoslav of the Rurik dynasty...

 (St. Vladimir) placed on top of a wreath of oak leaves. The size of the medallion is 35 mm (1.4 in) high and 36 mm (1.4 in) wide. There is no special design or symbol engraved on the suspension device. In addition to the formal award, recipients of either level are given a copy for use in public. Only one design of the wearer's copy exists, being modeled after the Soviet hero medal with the red ribbon replaced by a blue and yellow ribbon. The trident, which is used on the coat of arms of Ukraine, is placed in the middle of the star. This medal is made out of non-precious metals and is worn on the wearer's left-hand side above all other decorations.


Two different regulations were issued by President Kuchma: the edict of 1998 and a new edict in 2002. The edict of 2002 voided the edict of 1998 as it was issued after the law on state awards and confirmed the status of the title in 2000.

The 1998 edict contained general guidelines about the title. Some of the subjects mentioned were the criteria for receiving each level of the title, who can present the title, and how the medal should be displayed in public. The decree specified the title as being awarded to citizens of Ukraine for heroism and labor achievements. It stipulated that only the president could award the title, though certain other bodies of the Ukrainian Government could recommend people to receive it. The edict also allowed for special benefits, including increased pay, social security, and health care, which heroes could use until their death. The decree also covered the topics of duplicate medals and the display, ownership and storage of the insignia.

The new 2002 regulations differ only slightly from the original ones. The designs of the medals were not changed, the new edict introduced the measurements of the miniature medal, or the "wearer's copy". Article 4 outlines the details on the ownership of the insignia and special procedures for the medals to be displayed in museums.


The medal, which is presented with the title, is always worn on the left side of a business or suit jacket and is worn above any other medals and decorations awarded by Ukraine. If a person has been awarded both levels of the title then the Order of the Gold Star medal is placed to the right of the Order of the State medal. A copy of the medal, made out of non-precious metals, can be presented to the hero for daily wear that can be substitued with a ribbon bar, measuring 12 mm (0.47244094488189 in) x 18 mm (0.708661417322835 in), if wearing the medal is not permitted. Another copy of the decoration, called the miniature badge, is worn above the ribbon bars on the left side of the uniform.


In order for a person to be awarded the title, a recommendation must be made to the President by the Verkhovna Rada
Verkhovna Rada
The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is Ukraine's parliament. The Verkhovna Rada is a unicameral parliament composed of 450 deputies, which is presided over by a chairman...

 (parliament of Ukraine), the Cabinet of Ukraine (Government of Ukraine), the Constitutional Court
Constitutional Court of Ukraine
The Constitutional Court of Ukraine is the sole body of constitutional jurisdiction in Ukraine. The Constitutional Court of Ukraine interprets the Constitution of Ukraine and decides whether laws and other legal acts are constitutional....

, the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of Ukraine
The Supreme Court of Ukraine is the highest judicial body in the system of courts of general jurisdiction in Ukraine.The Court derives its authority from the Constitution of Ukraine, but much of its structure is outlined in legislation...

, the Higher Economic Court, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, ministries and other central executive authorities, the Supreme Council and the Council of Ministers of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, oblast, Kyiv and Sevastopol city state administrations, as well as Commission on state awards and heraldry of the President of Ukraine.

The recommendations are then sent to the President for consideration, along with a package composed of the details of the nominee's deeds and the recommendations that have been filed on his or her behalf. If the President agrees with the recommendation, he will issue a decree to award the person the title, which includes receiving a medal, miniature badge and certificate at a ceremony at the Presidential Palace
Mariyinsky Palace
Mariyinsky Palace is an official ceremonial residence of the President of Ukraine in Kiev and adjoins the neo-classical building of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine...

 in Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....



Recipients have been awarded the Hero of Ukraine title for a variety of accomplishments. The first to receive the title — in 1998 – was Borys Paton
Borys Paton
Borys Yevhenovych Paton is the long-term chairman of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. He was born in Kiev...

. He was recognised for studies in metallurgy of electrical welding
Welding is a fabrication or sculptural process that joins materials, usually metals or thermoplastics, by causing coalescence. This is often done by melting the workpieces and adding a filler material to form a pool of molten material that cools to become a strong joint, with pressure sometimes...

 and has been President of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine since 1962. Other science-related honors were given to Platon Kostyuk, for his work in neurophysiology
Neurophysiology is a part of physiology. Neurophysiology is the study of nervous system function...

, and Valerii Kazakov for his work in medicine,

The title is often awarded to athletes and other sports-related personalities. Vitali Klitschko
Vitali Klitschko
Vitaliy Volodymyrovych Klychko is a Ukrainian professional heavyweight boxer and the current WBC heavyweight champion. He is a leader of the political party Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform and a member of the Ukrainian delegation to the Congress of the Council of Europe. He previously...

, a heavyweight boxing champion was given the level "Order of the Gold Star" in 2004 as was Andriy Shevchenko
Andriy Shevchenko
Andriy Mykolayovych Shevchenko is a Ukrainian footballer who plays for Dynamo Kyiv and the Ukraine national team as a striker. He is the third-highest scorer in the history of European club competition with 67 goals as of 2011-03-10, behind Filippo Inzaghi and Raúl. With 175 goals scored with A.C...

, 2004 European Footballer of the Year
European Footballer of the Year
The "", literally translated as "the golden ball" and often referred to as the European Footballer of the Year award, was an annual association football award. It was presented to the player who had been considered to have performed the best over the previous calendar year...

 and two time winner of the Serie A
Serie A
Serie A , now called Serie A TIM due to sponsorship by Telecom Italia, is a professional league competition for football clubs located at the top of the Italian football league system and has been operating for over eighty years since 1929. It had been organized by Lega Calcio until 2010, but a new...

 scoring title. Valeriy Lobanovskyi, the former coach of the football
Football (soccer)
Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a sport played between two teams of eleven players with a spherical ball...

 club FC Dynamo Kyiv
FC Dynamo Kyiv
FC Dynamo Kyiv is a professional football club based in the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv. Founded in 1927, the club currently participates in the Ukrainian Premier League and has spent its entire history in the top league of Soviet and later Ukrainian football...

 (Dinamo Kiev), died on 13 May 2002 in hospital after he passed out during a game. He was awarded the title for "his years of service to Ukraine for the development of football inside the nation and also improving national prestige". Olympic medalists are also prominent winners. Yana Klochkova
Yana Klochkova
Yana Oleksandrivna Klochkova is a Ukrainian swimmer, who has won five Olympic medals in her career, with four of them being gold.Her gold medals came in the 200 meter individual medley and the 400 meter individual medley at the 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympics; her silver medal came in the 800 meter...

, who won gold medals in swimming at the Athens
2004 Summer Olympics
The 2004 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad, was a premier international multi-sport event held in Athens, Greece from August 13 to August 29, 2004 with the motto Welcome Home. 10,625 athletes competed, some 600 more than expected, accompanied by 5,501 team...

 and Sydney
2000 Summer Olympics
The Sydney 2000 Summer Olympic Games or the Millennium Games/Games of the New Millennium, officially known as the Games of the XXVII Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event which was celebrated between 15 September and 1 October 2000 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia...

 Olympic Games
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

 was awarded the title "in recognition of Klochkova's outstanding services to Ukraine and her efforts to build up the country's reputation in the Olympic arena."

People involved in the arts and literature have also received the award. Renowned Ukrainian composer, Oleksandr Bilash
Oleksandr Bilash
Oleksandr Bilash was a renowned Ukrainian composer, the author of popular liric songs, ballads, operas, operettas, oratorios and music for films...

, was awarded in 2001 for outstanding personal contribution to the enrichment of the spiritual treasures of the Ukrainian people and many years of fruitful creative activity. Sofia Rotaru
Sofia Rotaru
Sofia Mykhailivna Yevdokymenko-Rotaru known as Sofia Rotaru is a Soviet and Ukrainian pop singer of Romanian/Moldavian heritage....

, arguably the best-known popular singer from Ukraine in the former Soviet Union, received her award "for outstanding personal merits in the sphere of art". Writer Pavlo Zahrebelnyi
Pavlo Zahrebelnyi
Pavlo Arhypovych Zahrebelnyi or Zagrebelnyi was a Ukrainian novelist....

 was awarded for "self-sacrifice for Ukraine, and for many years of writing and significant personal contributions toward the enrichment of the national spiritual treasury" in 2004. Writers involved in politics are not excluded either; Georgiy Gongadze a journalist who was kidnapped and murdered in 2000, was awarded in 2005.

Controversial awards

There have been allegations that some members of Kuchma's inner circle, mainly Viktor Medvedchuk
Viktor Medvedchuk
Viktor Volodymyrovich Medvedchuk is a Ukrainian politician, lawyer, and business oligarch.-Brief overview:In 1998–2001, Medvedchuk was the First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada . In 2002–04, Medvedchuk served as head of Leonid Kuchma's presidential administration...

, may have masterminded inappropriate awards of Ukrainian decorations and titles, including the Hero of Ukraine title. Police, according to the Associated Press, sent summons to Medvedchuk on 15 July 2005, inviting him for questioning about these awards. Kuchma and Medvedchuk were also questioned on Aleksandr Bartenev's Hero of Ukraine title. Bartenev, known also as "Major", an alleged gangster, is currently facing legal charges in Ukraine.

Due to these problems, President Viktor Yushchenko
Viktor Yushchenko
Viktor Andriyovych Yushchenko is a former President of Ukraine. He took office on January 23, 2005, following a period of popular unrest known as the Orange Revolution...

 agreed to stop awarding state decorations starting in June 2005 until further notice. This move was announced by Ivan Vasiunyk, the First Deputy Secretary of State, and backed by Ukraine's Commission for Decorations and Heraldry
Heraldry is the profession, study, or art of creating, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol, as exercised by an officer of arms. Heraldry comes from Anglo-Norman herald, from the Germanic compound harja-waldaz, "army commander"...

. According to Vasiunyk, forty one people were awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine in 2004, with some of the awards being presented during the election period. Vasiunyk said that "I don't think you know a third of these names", referring to those who were presented with the hero title in that year. The Commission agreed not to strip anyone of their decorations, unless Ukrainian law would permit them to do so. Despite the announcement of suspension in giving out awards, two posthumous titles were awarded in July 2005 to Oles Honchar
Oles Honchar
Oleksandr Terentiyovych Honchar , was a Ukrainian and Soviet writer and public figure fighting for the reinstatement of the Ukrainian culture in the Soviet society after its abolition by the establishment.-Early years:According to several encyclopedias Honchar was born in the village of Sukhe in...

 and Vadym Hetman
Vadym Hetman
Vadym Petrovych Hetman was a Ukrainian statesman and banker. He is credited with the creation of the central bank of the country, the National Bank of Ukraine....


The decision by Yushchenko, in his last days in office, to award World War II Ukrainian nationalist and accused Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera
Stepan Bandera
Stepan Andriyovych Bandera was a Ukrainian politician and one of the leaders of Ukrainian national movement in Western Ukraine , who headed the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists...

 with the Hero of Ukraine caused an uproar in Russia, Poland and other countries, including Ukraine. It was condemned by the Simon Wiesenthal Center
Simon Wiesenthal Center
The Simon Wiesenthal Center , with headquarters in Los Angeles, California, was established in 1977 and named for Simon Wiesenthal, the Nazi hunter. According to its mission statement, it is "an international Jewish human rights organization dedicated to repairing the world one step at a time...

 and other Jewish groups around the world, Polish President Lech Kaczyński
Lech Kaczynski
Lech Aleksander Kaczyński was Polish lawyer and politician who served as the President of Poland from 2005 until 2010 and as Mayor of Warsaw from 2002 until 22 December 2005. Before he became a president, he was also a member of the party Prawo i Sprawiedliwość...

, the Russian Foreign Ministry, Soviet Army veteran groups, and prominent Ukrainian politicians such as Sergei Tigipko and Konstantin Zarudnev. Zarudnev, a MP
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 representing Sevastopol
Sevastopol is a city on rights of administrative division of Ukraine, located on the Black Sea coast of the Crimea peninsula. It has a population of 342,451 . Sevastopol is the second largest port in Ukraine, after the Port of Odessa....

, went as far as burning his Ukrainian passport in protest. On the other hand the decree that had given Bandera the award was applauded by Ukrainian nationalists in western Ukraine and by a number of Ukrainian-Americans.

A district administrative court in Donetsk
Donetsk , is a large city in eastern Ukraine on the Kalmius river. Administratively, it is a center of Donetsk Oblast, while historically, it is the unofficial capital and largest city of the economic and cultural Donets Basin region...

, Ukraine cancelled the presidential decree on 2 April 2010, that had granted the Hero of Ukraine title to Bandera. Lawyer Vladimir Olentsevych argued in a lawsuit that the title of Hero of Ukraine is the highest state award which is granted exclusively to citizens of Ukraine. Bandera was not a Ukrainian citizen, as he was in exile after World War II, and was murdered in 1959 in Germany before the 1991 Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine
Declaration of Independence of Ukraine
The Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine was adopted by the Ukrainian parliament on August 24, 1991. The Act established Ukraine as an independent, democratic state....

. For the same reasons the Donetsk Administrative Court of Appeals on 21 April 2010 declared unlawful a former Ukrainian President Yuschenko decree of 12 October 2007 to award the Hero of Ukraine title to Roman Shukhevych
Roman Shukhevych
Roman Taras Yosypovych Shukhevych was a Ukrainian politician and military leader, the general of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.-Childhood:Roman Taras Yosypovych Shukhevych was born in the city of Krakovets, Jaworow powiat, in Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria which is located today between Lviv and...

, the commander of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.

On 12 August 2010 the High Administrative Court of Ukraine dismissed suits to declare four decrees by President Viktor Yanukovych on awarding the Hero of Ukraine title to Soviet soldiers illegal and cancel them. The filer of these suits stated they were based on the same arguments used by Donetsk Administrative Court of Appeals that on 21 April satisfied an appeal that deprived Roman Shukhevych the Hero of Ukraine title, as Shukhevych was not a citizen of Ukraine.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.