16:30 GMT18 February 2020
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    The actions of the Venezuelan opposition, which is organizing protests to oppose the upcoming Constituent Assembly vote, are related to the changes in the US administration, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro told RT.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Maduro said that the United States aimed to destroy his country to "gain access to the riches of Venezuela." The president mentioned the country's oil deposits, which are considered to be the largest in the world.

    "All of these actions of the opposition are linked to the changes in US politics… the right-wing extremists taking top positions in the administration of [US President Donald] Trump," Maduro said.

    On Wednesday, the US Department of the Treasury said that Washington had sanctioned 13 current and former Venezuelan government and military officials.

    Venezuela has been gripped by mass protests since April, claiming over 100 lives, with the unrest initially caused by the country's top court's attempt to curb the powers of the National Assembly, controlled by the opposition. The controversial decision was then reversed, but the protests continued. The Venezuelan government convened a Constituent Assembly, which will have the power to amend the constitution, in order to restore peace in Venezuela. The country's opposition fears that the new constitution would strongly favor the current government.

    The vote to choose the members of the Constituent Assembly is scheduled for Sunday.


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