MOSCOW, April 15 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday sent a congratulatory message to the late Hugo Chavez’s protégé, socialist candidate Nicolas Maduro who narrowly won Sunday’s presidential election in Venezuela, saying that he hoped Russian-Venezuelan relations will strengthen even further.
Putin said he was confident that under Maduro Venezuela will continue to consolidate its “strategic partnership with Russia” and reaffirmed Moscow’s readiness for further development of a constructive dialog between the two nations, the Kremlin's press service said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry urged all political forces in Venezuela to respect the results of the presidential election and exercise a balanced and responsible approach.
Maduro won 50.7 percent of the vote, whereas his rival, Miranda State Governor Henrique Capriles, gained 49.1 percent, according to preliminary official results announced by the National Electoral Council.
During his election campaign, Maduro, 50, pledged to promote Chavez's “21st century socialism,” which brought popular health, education and food programs to the poor. Capriles, 40, vowed to bring change to the nation of 29 million people if elected.
Chavez, who had ruled Venezuela for 14 years, died on March 5 at the age of 58 after a two-year-long battle with cancer. He named Maduro as his successor before undergoing the latest surgery last December.