Putin hails Chavez as 'uncommon, strong man'

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday hailed his late Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez as an uncommon and strong man who had made a huge contribution to relations between Moscow and Caracas.

"He was an uncommon and strong man who looked into the future and always set the highest target for himself," Putin said in a telegram of condolence, thanking Chavez for laying the "solid basis" for Russia-Venezuela relations.

Russia enjoys close military ties with Venezuela, which also represents one of the main oversees investment targets of the giant state oil company Rosneft.

Moscow will be represented at Chavez's funeral by Rosneft chief executive and close Putin ally Igor Sechin, Russian Technologies corporation chief Sergei Chemezov, and Trade Minister Denis Manturov, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.