Comments by M.V. Zakharova, the official representative of Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, regarding the situation surrounding the Venezuelan internal negotiations

Russia, as the country supporting the negotiations between the Government of Venezuela and the opposition’s Unitary Platform, has been consistently calling on all the members of the international community to assist in the creation of an atmosphere around the dialogue currently taking place in Mexico that is as favourable and constructive as possible. Within this context, some of the actions of external players, threatening to undermine the fragile trust that has developed between the parties, are causing concern.

Specifically, we would like to again draw attention to the situation surrounding the Venezuelan Government’s Special Envoy, A. Saab. As is well known, in June 2020, he was detained at the request of the US by the Cape Verde law enforcement authorities. Since then, Washington has been exerting strong pressure on the Cape Verde authorities and the country’s judicial system, seeking his extradition.

We believe the criminal prosecution of A. Saab, who holds diplomatic status and who was performing a humanitarian mission, to be politically motivated.

Leaving aside the legal aspects of this problem, on the surface is a clear line [between] the “conclusion” of A. Saab’s case and the current dialogue in Mexico. Now, when substantive discussions are being held on important issues which affect to a varying degree US policy towards Venezuela, those in Washington are essentially trying to use A. Saab as an additional lever to put pressure on the Venezuelan Government. We see in this a serious threat to the parties’ efforts to come up with mutually acceptable paths for this country’s future development.

We would stress that only the Venezuelans themselves can determine their fate and are capable, in a mutually respectful political process, of overcoming the divisions existing in Venezuelan society. We believe it important to give Venezuelans the opportunity to arrive at this decision independently. Attempts at external destructive interference are inappropriate here, and liability for the consequences of such actions will lie with those who directly or indirectly make such attempts.