MOSCOW — Goodbye “Projected Street Number 5509.” Hello “Hugo ChavezStreet.”
That’s the new name for the Moscow road Venezuelan President Nicolas Madurodedicated in honor of his late predecessor, Hugo Chavez, in a northern neighborhood of Russia’s capital on Tuesday.
Chants from Venezuelans – “Chavez lives, the fight continues!” and “The people united will never be defeated!” – set the stage for Mr. Maduro, who appeared at the dedication ceremony along with OAO Rosneft Chief Executive Igor Sechin and a representative of the Moscow government.
He gave a passionate speech about his predecessor, describing Mr. Chavez as one of the fathers of the concept of a multipolar world. Mr. Sechin said the late Venezuelan leader will forever be in Russians’ hearts and minds. The Venezuelan president was in town with a number of other leaders for a gas producer’s conference.
Mr. Chavez, a long-time Kremlin ally and former tank commander turned populist firebrand, visited Moscow some 10 times before his death in March at age 58 from complications related to cancer.
Sergei Cheryomin of the Moscow government called Mr. Chavez “a great psychologist,” capable of relieving the tension in any conversation.
Mr. Maduro answered only one question at the ceremony, saying that “all of humanity” should protect National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, who is stuck in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. Mr. Maduro did not say whether his country was planning to approve an asylum application Mr. Snowden has submitted to Venezuela.
Mr. Maduro set flowers down on a plaque with Mr. Chavez’s name and made a swift exit. He was due in central Moscow, where he was scheduled to attend a folk-dancing performance with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.