CARACAS, February 20. /TASS/. Russia will only recognize the early presidential elections in Venezuela if President Nicolas Maduro is the one to call them, Russian Ambassador to Venezuela Vladimir Zayemsky said in an interview with TASS.
He reminded that Moscow recognized the results of the May 2018 presidential election, which was attended by observers from various states, including Russia. "The necessity to hold a new presidential election is presented as an ultimatum, with no regard for domestic policy situation in the country and the current Constitution of Venezuela," the diplomat said in response to a question about early presidential elections. "In our opinion, this is direct interference in the internal affairs of the country, and Moscow does not intend to support such an initiative."
"If the decision to hold such elections will be made by Maduro, based on a national dialogue, we see no obstacles in the way of recognizing their results," the diplomat added.
"In this case, a lot will depend on following the principle of free competition of candidates, of a democratic and free electoral process, of adherence to electoral procedures stipulated in the Venezuelan legal framework," the ambassador continued. "So I would not plan too far ahead so far."
In response to a question about potential successors of Maduro (Acting Vice President of Venezuela Delcy Rodriguez or head of the Constituent National Assembly Diosdado Cabello), the ambassador stated that making predictions does not make a lot of sense currently.
He reminded that according to the Constitution of Venezuela, "Article 233, so beloved by opposition members and their Western sponsors, proclaims: if for some reason, in the first four years of his presidential term, the head of state is unable to comply with his functions - be it due to death, resignation, mental instability and so on - new presidential elections must be called within 30 days." "Before the newly elected president assumes their powers, Acting Vice President of the republic, the position currently filled by Delcy Rodriguez, serves as the head of state. Of course, the Constitution does not describe the situation with the Constituent National Assembly, headed by Diosdado Cabello, being granted special powers," the diplomat pointed out.
Situation in Venezuela
Juan Guaido, Venezuelan opposition leader and parliament speaker, whose appointment to that position had been cancelled by the country’s Supreme Court, declared himself interim president at a rally in the country’s capital of Caracas on January 23. On the same day, the United States recognized him as an interim president, and the countries of the Lima Group (excluding Mexico) and the Organization of American States followed suit. Venezuela's incumbent President Nicolas Maduro blasted the move as an attempted coup and announced cutting diplomatic ties with the United States.
Most European Union member states recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president. Russia, Belarus, Bolivia, Iran, China, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Syria and Turkey voiced support for Maduro.