MOSCOW: Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on Saturday hailed Fidel Castro, the Cuban socialist icon who has died aged 90, for "strengthening" his island nation.

"Fidel stood up and strengthened his country during the harshest American blockade, when there was colossal pressure on him and he still took his country out of this blockade to a path of independent development," Interfax news agency quoted Gorbachev as saying.

"In the past years, even when Fidel Castro was not formally in power, his role in strengthening the country was huge."

Gorbachev added that Castro would be remembered as a "prominent politician" who managed to leave a "deep mark in the history of mankind."

The Kremlin has not yet reacted to Castro's death.

Ties between Moscow and Havana suffered after the collapse of the USSR as the massive flow of financial aid from the Soviet Union dried up, delivering a major economic blow to the country.

Cuban President Raul Castro, who took power after his elder brother Fidel was hospitalised in 2006, said that the revolutionary leader's remains will be cremated early on Saturday.

India mourns the loss of a great friend

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday condoled the death of Cuban revolutionary leader and former President Fidel Castro, who died on Saturday at the age of 90, saying: "India mourns the loss of a great friend."

"I extend my deepest condolences to the government and the people of Cuba on the sad demise of Fidel Castro. May his soul rest in peace," Modi said in a tweet.

"We stand in support with the Cuban government and the people in this tragic hour. Fidel Castro was one of the most iconic personalities of the 20th century. India mourns the loss of a great friend," he said.

Castro, who ruled Cuba as a one-party state for almost half-a-century before handing over power to his brother Raul in 2008, and his small army of guerrillas overthrew the military leader Fulgencio Batista in 1959 to widespread popular support and declare the revolution to be Marxist-Leninist in nature.

 Sonia condoles death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro

New Delhi: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Saturday condoled the demise of former Cuban president Fidel Castro.

Describing his death as a loss not limited to Cuba or a particular ideology, she said Castro led the oppressed and the striving from the front and stood up to every attempt at stifling the voice of freedom.

"His contribution to the Non Aligned Movement and his unflinching support for India's cause on various fora will always remain deeply etched in the minds and hearts of the Indian people," she said in a statement.

Cuba's former president and revolutionary icon Fidel Castro, who led a rebel army to improbable victory in his country, died at 90 years of age in Havana.

 Left parties pay glowing tributes to Castro

New Delhi: Indian Left parties on Saturday paid rich tributes to Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro, saying the departed leader was a great friend of the Indian Communist movement and India.

Describing Castro as a source of "inspiration," Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said he steered Cuba from a very backward country to what it is today.

"He steered Cuba from a very backward country to what it is today. It has got the world's highest rate of literacy, development in medical sciences where even the US sends doctors for training there. And he remained and remains a big revolutionary and source of inspiration," he said.

"End of an era. But revolutionaries like Fidel Castro live forever," he said in a tweet.
In a statement, the CPI said "Fidel Castro played a historic role in building the modern socialist Cuba, which is free from illiteracy, hunger and illness. Castro was great Marxist thinker and a legendary revolutionary fighter".

"He was great friend of Indian Communist movement and India. He played remarkable role in the non-aligned movement giving it a new orientation," the party said.

Expressing "deep sorrow" over the demise of the former Cuban President, the CPI said, "his demise is not just a loss for Cuba but for the whole world and for all revolutionary."

Castro, who led a rebel army to improbable victory in Cuba, embraced Soviet-style communism and defied the power of 10 US presidents during his half century rule, died in Havana on Friday night.

General Secretary of the CPI (ML) Liberation Dipankar Bhattcharya, said ,"#FidelCastro, the communist great who batted through the post-Soviet era, is no more. #RedSalute Comrade, your mission will be fulfilled."