Putin wants to revive Soviet-era 'Hero of Labour' title

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President Vladimir Putin on Monday suggested Russia should revive the Hero of Labour title, a highly-coveted Soviet-era award established in the early years of the USSR to mobilise workers and increase output.

"Of course, I think that it would be good for us to revive the Hero of Labour title, only we need to think, we cannot completely copy the Soviet times," Russian news agencies quoted Putin as saying at a meeting with his 2012 election campaign activists.

"We need to turn our attention to the man of labour wherever he works, who does his bit by using both his head and hands," the 60-year-old president was quoted as saying.

"There should be criteria, clear and understandable criteria, not simply for the number of years of work but for the result, the contribution to the country's development."

Putin, who returned to the Kremlin for a third term in May despite huge protests against his decade-long rule, once famously described the collapse of the Soviet Union as the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century."

While a growing number of middle class urbanites are growing disillusioned with the Russian strongman, he is still popular with blue-collar workers.

Upon his Kremlin return, he named a tank factory worker who vowed on television to protect him from Moscow protesters as his representative in the Urals Federal District.

Thousands of Soviet workers earned the coveted title of Hero of Labour under the USSR, enjoying special privileges in society and special status. However the title was discontinued after the fall of the USSR.