Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Fidel Castro, the socialist Cuban icon who has died aged 90, as the "symbol of an era," the Kremlin said in a statement today. "The name of this distinguished statesman is rightly considered the symbol of an era in modern world history," Putin said in a telegram to Cuban President Raul Castro cited by the Kremlin. "Fidel Castro was a sincere and reliable friend of Russia." Putin added that Castro has managed to build a "free and independent Cuba" that "became an influential member of the international community and served as an inspiration for many countries and peoples." The Kremlin strongman hailed Castro as a "strong and wise person who always looked to the future with confidence." "He embodied the high ideals of a politician, a citizen and a patriot sincerely convinced of the rightness of the cause to which he dedicated his whole life," Putin said. "His memory will forever remain in the hearts of the citizens of Russia." Putin also said that Castro had made a "huge personal contribution" in the establishment and development of the countries' bilateral relations. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev hailed Castro for strengthening his island nation.
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