This is the highest award of the former USSR - a medal “Gold Star” also known as “Hero of the Soviet Union”. Only 12,800 were ever awarded. This one was awarded to Alexander Matveev, an ace pilot, in 1943. He was only 22 years old when he became a Hero. Based on wikipedia, Matveen died in 1982. I don’t know how his star came to the market, most likely it was sold by his relatives in 90’s (a common story for most Soviet awards). The box with red velvet is also an original one. Large and small diplomas that usually came with the Star, unfortunately, are missing.
Grigory Zinoviev 1883-1936 was a Bolshevik revolutionary and Soviet Communist politician. Him and Lenin were buddies so he became a key member of the Communist party despite being a terrible public speaker and incredibly vain (understandably). Stalin wasn’t so keen on him though and in 1936 put him and Kamenev -an ally of Zinoviev, on trial with hundreds of other key figures for made up charges. The pair arranged with Stalin that they would plead guilty in order to avoid execution, however Stalin broke his promise and they were killed by firing squad. Zinoviev apparantly cried and begged for mercy until the end, which breaks my heart a little bit.
The Mirny Diamond Mine is located in Eastern Siberia and is the second largest manmade hole in the world, the first being the Bingham Copper Mine in Utah. The hole was constructed by the orders of Stalin to fulfil the Soviet Union’s demand for industrial grade diamonds after the war. It is claimed that the airspace above the mine is off limits to helicopters and the reason being is that, apparently, there have been
“a few accidents when they were ‘sucked in’ by downward air flow.” The mine was left abandoned when it became too difficult to dig any deeper.