04:29 GMT +320 November 2019
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    Hugo Chavez statue in Sabaneta

    Maduro Confirms Putin Will Be First Recipient of Venezuelan Peace Prize

    © Photo: Rosneft
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    At a press conference on Wednesday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin has won the first annual Hugo Chavez Prize for Peace and Sovereignty, named in honor of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

    The award was created last October on the initiative of the president, but some media resources mistakenly reported that Putin had already won the prize.

    At a regular press conference and address to the nation on January 18 at the Presidential Palace in Miraflores, Caracas, Maduro confirmed that Putin had just won the honor now, following a ruling by the award's qualifying committee. 

    "The First Peace Prize named after Hugo Chavez is awarded to Vladimir Putin. I was informed about this by the qualifying committee for the prize," Maduro said. 

    U.S. President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump (L) to discuss transition plans in the White House Oval Office in Washington, U.S., November 10, 2016
    © REUTERS / Kevin Lamarque
    "I believe that Putin is a great leader [in the struggle] for peace," the president noted, adding that in the ten meetings he's had with the Russian leader, he "always learned something."

    The Hugo Chavez Prize for Peace and Sovereignty aims to recognize "global and national personalities who have stood out in the struggle for peace, for sovereignty and the independence of peoples." 

    The prize for the award consists of a statuette of Hugo Chavez. The statuette is a replica of a statue of Chavez designed by Russian sculptor Sergei Kazantsev, which was unveiled last year in the late leader's home village of Sabaneta. That six-meter tall monument was commissioned by Russian state-run oil company Rosneft at the request of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader, Maduro said Wednesday, "deeply loved Commandante Hugo Chavez," who died from cancer in 2013.

    Chavez was first elected president of Venezuela in 1998, and was reelected in 2000, 2006 and 2012, although he was unable to be sworn in for his last term due to his illness. He survived a Washington-backed coup attempt in 2002. Throughout his presidency, he promoted social reform and sovereignty for Latin America, and created an ideology called Bolivarianism, named after Simon Bolivar, a 19th century Venezuelan military and political leader who fought for the independence of Gran Colombia from Spain.

    Maduro has been engaged in a tense political standoff with the parliament-held opposition, which he accused of trying to stage a coup against him earlier this month. Venezuela is grappling with problems caused by the collapse in profitability of its once-lucrative oil industry.

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    Tags:
    national award, peace prize, peace, award, sovereignty, Vladimir Putin, Nicolas Maduro, Hugo Chavez, Russia, Venezuela
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