Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev congratulated Fidel Castro, the charismatic leader of the Cuban Revolution, on the occasion of his 85th birthday in a telephone call on Saturday, the Kremlin's press service said.
"Your life is a notable example of serving your country and people. That's why you remain a legendary comandante, and a national leader for new generations of Cubans," Medvedev told Castro.
Fidel Castro came to power in 1959 when his guerrilla forces swept down from the eastern Sierra Maestra mountains to topple U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista and ran Cuba for 49 years.
In July 2006 he underwent emergency intestinal surgery and suffered complications from which he never fully recovered. In 2008, he officially ceded power to his brother Raul, 80, who struggles to reform Cuba's Soviet-style economy.
Fidel gave up his last leadership post in April 2011 when he stepped down as head of the ruling Communist Party and has retreated further and further from public view.
Several dozen singers and musicians from nine Latin American countries on Friday night dedicated a three-hour concert, dubbed Serenata a la Fidelidad (Serenade to Fidelity), to the man who ruled a tiny Communist nation in the Caribbean for almost five decades.