Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference after a meeting with his Moldovan counterpart Igor Dodon at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Jan. 17, 2017. Reuters/Sergei Ilnitsky/Pool

Whether Vladimir Putin was indeed cheering for Donald Trump’s swearing in as president of the United States Friday, the Russian president already has one thing to celebrate. Putin was confirmed Wednesday as the first recipient of the Hugo Chavez Prize for Peace and Sovereignty, named in honor of the late Venezuelan leader, by current Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Putin was chosen by the award committee set up last year, Maduro said during a press conference in Caracas.

"From Venezuela, we recognize Putin as a great leader of peace, as a great ruler of the multi-centric and multi-polar world,” Maduro said to a gathering of international media at Miraflores Palace. “We always learn a great deal from him.”

The inception of the award was announced by Maduro in October last year, on the same day that the Nobel Committee awarded its Peace Prize to the president of neighboring Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, for his role in a peace deal between the government at the FARC rebel group.

Under Chavez, the Venezuelan government had deep, and often complex, ties with the Marxist group.

Maduro made clear his intention at the time to give the first award to Putin, calling him a “fighter for peace.” He has positively cited Putin’s role in the Syria conflict.

Putin was heavily criticized by the U.S. for Russia’s role in helping the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad crush rebel resistance in the country’s largest city, Aleppo. Russia and Turkey later brokered a ceasefire in Syria last month.

Speaking Wednesday, Maduro had further praise for his Russian counterpart.

“I have met with the Russian president about 10 times and he is a president with a great strategic vision, a great devotion and inspiration for his country and shared the same intensity in his admiration for the commander Hugo Chavez," he said.

Under Chavez, Venezuela, like Russia, was consistently opposed to U.S. policies. Chavez accused the U.S. of backing a coup against him in 2002. Declassified documents later revealed that the CIA was aware of the coup attempt before it transpired.

Maduro took over from Chavez upon his death in 2013, but has faced consistent calls for a recall election over an economic crisis that has led to food shortages and rampant inflation.