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Decree 1/Nic.-2001

On 1 August (19 July O.S) 1929, in fulfilment of the intentions of the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II and in honor of his memory as the Supreme Commander of the valiant Imperial Army and Navy of old, Our Grandfather the Emperor Kirill I of blessed memory, established the Order of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, the purpose of which was to award the veterans of the Great War of 1914-1918. According to the First Statute of the Order, the right to this Order was given to all those who took part in the said war.

The conditions of life in exile prevented the establishment of the Order of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in full accord with the project presented to the Emperor Nicholas II at the time, namely that the Order should comprise three classes. It was established that the Order of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker should have just one class and that it should be hereditary, so that the senior member of the family in direct descent from the original recipient of the Order should have the right to wear the decoration with a parade uniform. The Order was of a commemorative nature, and the possible alteration of the Statute and the determination of the rights and privileges it would confer were postponed until Our Family could return to Our Homeland.

During the first decades after the establishment of the Order many thousands became Knights of the Order: generals, officers and other ranks; bishops and priests of the Russian Orthodox Church and Members of Our House who had taken part in the Great War, officers of the medical service and some foreign nationals who had distinguished themselves in allied military and naval action. All of them received this decoration for the bravery and valour they showed in the defence of the Russian State against the foreign enemy. However, with the passage of time, practically nobody is alive who would have the right to receive the Order of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in accordance with the original Statute, as the great majority of them have gone to a better world.

The Order of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, however, was designed as an award to the defenders of Russia. My Imperial Grandfather, the Emperor Kirill I, undoubtedly intended the Order of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker to be conferred on all loyal sons of the Motherland who served selflessly in its defence. Even in 1922, in his address to the soldiers of the Red and the White Armies soon after the end of the Civil War, My Grandfather proclaimed: "There are not two Russian armies. There is, on both sides of the Russian border, just one Russian Army which is wholeheartedly devoted to Russia, to its ancient heritage, its traditional aims. It will save Our much-suffering Homeland".

Ten years later, in his address to the soldiers of the Red Army of 25 (12) November 1932, the Emperor Kirill I maintained that the Red Army and Navy "are turning into that Russian force which would be able to save Russia from foreign invasion, from internal collapse and from communist violence". "Russian soldiers!" wrote My Grandfather, "I address Myself to you. Your power is the guarantee of the safety and inviolability of the Russian State. As you are now the armed forces of Russia, and inseparable from her people, you have become custodians of the age-old glorious heritage of the Russian Army and Navy which have always stood in defence of the Motherland and served as the guarantors of international peace. Nothing temporary, nothing alien, can change the essence of your military service. You have already understood yourselves to be the defenders of the homeland. There shall come a time when this understanding will determine the fate of Russia. For the present, you must prepare yourselves for the future. Russia needs a strong Army and Navy. Your duty is to increase the power of the Army and Navy, to raise its spirit, to harden its discipline, to work stubbornly on its technical advancement".

These words, written not quite seventy years ago, have retained all their significance up to the present day. They bear eloquent witness to the fact that the Imperial Founder of the Order of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker always valued military service most highly, no matter what the political structure in Russia at any particular time in history. This same view was held by My late Father, the Grand Duke Wladimir Kirillovich; and I and My Son and Heir, the Tsesarevich and Grand Duke George Mikhailovich, also hold this view. For this reason, on behalf of the Imperial House of Russia, I wish with all my heart to recognize the contribution of the current generation of defenders of the Motherland to the strengthening of Russia's defence.

Now that, once again, We have the opportunity to visit Our homeland and to participate, insofar as We are able, in the process of the renewal of its historical values and traditions, We have seen fit to include the Order of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker among Our Family Orders, and, at the same time, to enact a new Statute, which extends the right to be awarded this Order to the military servicemen of Russia for high personal achievement in service, for bravery and valour in the carrying out of military duties, for ensuring the high military preparedness of the armed forces and of Russia's defence capability, for the exemplary fulfilment of military duties by personnel serving in units under their command and the achievement of a high level of military training. In the general order of seniority among the Russian Imperial and Royal Orders, the Order of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker now follows that of the Order of St. Anne.

The hereditary right to succeed to membership of the Military Order of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker is abolished. Individuals who have been awarded the Order in accordance with the 1929 Statute and with the Amended Statute of 1938 shall be considered as follows: those of I and II Class rank according to the Table of Ranks shall be considered as being Knights of the First Class of the Order of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker; those of III and IV Class - as Knights of the Second Class; those of V to XIV Class - as Knights Third Class. Any new petitions for award of the Order on the basis of the old Statute will not be accepted following Our signature of the present Decree, with the exception of the petitions of those who served in the Great War of 1914-1918.

As did My Imperial Grandfather, I strongly believe that Almighty God will lead Russia, cleansed through suffering, to a new life, inspired by faith in its glorious future through the testament of its glorious past.

May award of the Order of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker be a recompense by the Imperial House of Russia to those who labour for the defence of the Motherland, who through their labor and blood have at all times served to increase the greatness of our Homeland.

H.I.H. the Grand Duchess
Maria Wladimirovna

Given at St. Briac
4 August (22 July) 2001

A. Zakatov

Private Secretary to the Russian Imperial Family