Russia slams ‘usurpation’ of power

Russia slams ‘usurpation’ of power

Moscow: Russia on Thursday slammed what it called foreign interference in Venezuela and denounced the opposition’s “usurpation of power”, calling President Nicolas Maduro the crisis-hit country’s legitimate leader. In a strongly-worded statement backing Moscow ally Maduro, the Russian foreign ministry warned that international support for opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim President on Wednesday, was a “direct path to lawlessness and bloodshed”.

“Only Venezuelans have the right to determine their future. Destructive outside interference, especially in the current extremely tense situation, is unacceptable,” it said. In a separate statement to reporters, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman slammed attempts by the opposition to usurp power.

“We consider the attempted usurpation of power in Venezuela as… a breach of the foundations of international law,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters during a conference call. “Maduro is the legitimate head of state,” he added. On Wednesday, the US and major South American nations recognised Venezuelan Guaido as interim leader, while the UN urged dialogue in Caracas to avoid “disaster”, leaving Maduro increasingly isolated.

The Kremlin has backed Maduro who has been hit by US and EU sanctions, and ostracised as a dictator by Western powers for his brutal suppression of the opposition. Moscow warned Washington against any attempts to militarily intervene in Venezuela.

“We caution against any such reckless steps fraught with catastrophic consequences,” the foreign ministry said.
Moscow said Washington’s “cavalier” actions in the country showed the US ignored norms of international law, claiming it wanted to push through a change of power in Venezuela.

Russia has extensive econ­omic interests in Venezuela and invested billions of dollars in its energy sector. Meanwhile, China said on Thursday it opposed external interference in Venezuelan politics. China is Vene­zuela’s main creditor and Maduro visited the country in September, striking energy and gold mining deals as he sought Beijing’s support to help his crisis-hit nation. Maduro now faces trouble at home, where Guaido proclaimed himself acting president on Wednesday amid rival protests in Caracas.

“China has consistently pu­r­sued the principle of not interfering with other count­r­ies’ internal politics, and op­p­oses the interference (in) Venezuelan affairs by external forces,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in Beijing.

“We are paying close attention to the current situation in Venezuela and are calling on all parties to remain rational and calm, and to seek a political resolution to Venezuela’s problem thro­ugh peaceful dialogue within Venezuela’s constitutional framework,” Hua added.


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