Condolences following the passing of President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez 2013-03-06 10:50:00 Vladimir Putin sent his profound condolences to Vice President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro and the Venezuelan people following the death of President Hugo Chavez, who Mr Putin called an exceptional leader and statesman and Russia’s good friend. Mr Putin, who met Hugo Chavez on a number of occasions, noted his outstanding qualities. “He was an exceptional and strong person who looked to the future and always set for himself the highest objectives,” the President said in his telegram of condolences. Mr Putin also praised Mr Chavez’s personal efforts to lay a solid foundation for the partnership between the two countries, encourage active political contacts and get major humanitarian and economic projects underway, and said that the two countries need to keep following this road now, strengthening and developing their ties. The President said that the Venezuelan people’s inherent spirit of endurance and vital energy will get them through the trials that have come their way and give them the strength to continue the work of building a strong, independent and prosperous Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.