The president of Venezuela has created a new peace prize in honour of former socialist leader Hugo Chavez – and awarded it to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The award was given on the same day the annual Nobel Peace Prize was presented to Juan Manuel Santos, president of neighbouring Colombia, for his role in negotiating a peace agreement with Marxist FARC rebels.
During a televised broadcast, Prime Minister Nicolas Maduro said: “I’ve decided to create the Hugo Chavez prize for peace and the sovereignty… I think President Vladimir Putin deserves this award.”
Describing the Russian President as a “fighter for peace”, President Maduro unveiled a statue of Chavez designed by a Russian artist for the new award.
Mr Putin and future winners will receive a miniature replica of the statue.
Speaking on air, Mr Maduro said the prize would be offered to national and international figures “who have excelled in the struggle for peace,” adding that he had chosen to honour Mr Putin with the award as he is a strong ally of Venezuela.
Hundreds of thousands of people have joined pro and anti-government demonstrations in Venezuela over the past few months. The anti-government protests are led by campaigners who criticise the government for its role in the country’s failing economy.
Mr Maduro blames the problems on an “economic war,” however, which he says has been constructed by the opposition party with help from the US government.
President Putin was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, despite ordering soldiers to invade Ukraine that same year. He lost to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai, for their work against the suppression of children and young people.
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