The Order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called is one of the main symbols of the Russian state. Not only is it the very first of the awards established in our country, but for a long time - until 1917 - it occupied the highest level in the hierarchy of state orders and medals. In 1998, this status was returned to him by decree of Boris Yeltsin.
The Order of St. Andrew the First-Called was established at a very difficult time for the country: active preparations were underway for the Northern War, Russia was preparing to become on a par with the mighty European powers. The first order in the Russian state was supposed to symbolize the prestige of the country, its right to respect from other states. It is no coincidence that one of the closest disciples of Peter the Great, Andrew the First-Called, who once played a huge role in the formation of Kievan Rus, was chosen as the patron of this award.
The draft statute, which described the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called, was prepared, among other things,active efforts of Peter I. According to one version, it was he who proposed to make two crossed white stripes on a blue field as a symbol of this award, and to present the order itself to those who rendered "great services to the Fatherland." The decree establishing the order was signed by the future emperor at the end of March 1699.
For the first time, Admiral F. Golovin tried on the cavalier ribbon, on which the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called was strengthened, but there was a problem with the second cavalier: he became the notorious ataman I. Mazepa, who soon surrendered to Charles XII, for which not only was anathematized, but also lost the highest Russian award. Peter himself, by the way, became only the sixth owner of this high order.
Chevaliers of the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called received an order sign, which was a silver cross hoisted against the background of a double-headed golden eagle and an eight-pointed star. This sign itself was painted blue and had the image of St. Andrew the First-Called in the center. The order was to be worn on a blue ribbon, gracefully thrown over the right shoulder, while the left breast was to be decorated with an eight-pointed star.
Subsequently, the circle of applicants for this order was limited to the highest elite of the state, and the very awarding them gave a person the right to the rank of lieutenant general. In addition, it has become a tradition to present the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called at birth to members of the imperial family.
At the same time in Russia, the owners of this award could beno more than twelve people. In total, at the time of the February Revolution, the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called was awarded, according to various estimates, from 900 to 1100 people, including such famous people as A. Suvorov, G. Potemkin, P. Rumyantsev, Napoleon. The last owner of this award in Tsarist Russia was the representative of the imperial family, Prince Roman Petrovich.
In modern Russia, the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called again took its rightful place as the main award of the country in 1998. Its appearance was created according to surviving sketches, so it completely copies the order that was before 1917. The famous academician D. Likhachev was the first to receive this award. Subsequently, it was awarded to 12 more people, including N. Nazarbayev, M. Kalashnikov, A. Solzhenitsyn, Alexy II, S. Mikhalkov.