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    Pro-government supporters holding a Venezuela's flag attend a rally against U.S President Donald Trump in Caracas, Venezuela August 14, 2017

    Russian Diplomat Slams 'Destructive and Irrational' US Policy Toward Venezuela

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Moscow considers the US policy toward Venezuela irresponsible, Washington provokes a deterioration of the social and economic situation in the Latin American country, Director of Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department of Latin America Aleksander Shchetinin told Sputnik in an interview.

    "In our opinion, US policy toward Venezuela is very destructive and irrational. After all, in fact, what do our US colleagues do? First, they do not believe in the victory of the opposition. Thus, the prestige of the opposition is severely damaged. Secondly, against this background, they take steps to provoke … chaos and artificial deterioration of the social and economic situation in the country. They are provoking a lack of money supply, shortage of food, medicines and so on. In fact, they promote extreme discontent among the population and riot," Shchetinin said.

    The diplomat stressed that such approach was not "the policy of a responsible state, because it is an attempt to achieve own geopolitical goals by significant deterioration of the lives of ordinary Venezuelans."

    "And it is quite obvious that this deterioration, despite all the difficulties and mistakes in the government's economic policy, is to a large extent caused precisely by sanctions and destructive policy toward Venezuela of external players, primarily the United States. Therefore, even though it can be expected that such approach will continue to exist, efforts must be made in a completely different direction from the point of view of political intelligence," Shchetinin said.

    According to the official, statements made by foreign countries questioning the legitimacy of the upcoming Venezuelan presidential election aimed at provoking radical political forces rather than promoting a dialogue in the crisis-hit country.

    "Such statements encourage radicals and irreconcilable forces instead of facilitating search for consent. We have repeatedly called for just the search for consent, for that internal stability which will let, combined with healthy competition of constructive political forces, determine the country’s future development both in economic and political areas," Schetinin said.

    Last week, during the 8th Summit of the Americas, 16 out of the 34 countries in attendance adopted a joint statement labeling the upcoming Venezuelan presidential election as illegitimate. The countries urged Caracas to ensure a transparent and democratic electoral process. The European Union and the United States also raised concerns about the vote’s transparency.

    The Venezuelan presidential election is scheduled for May 20. There are five candidates for the post: incumbent President Nicholas Maduro, opposition leader Henri Falcon, Reinaldo Quijada, Luis Ratti and Javier Bertucci. According to analysts, the election's front-runners are Maduro and Falcon.

    READ MORE: US Uses 'Hybrid Aggression' Against Venezuela to Oust Maduro — Defense Minister

    US-Venezuelan relations have been tense for decades with Caracas regularly blaming Washington for interfering in its internal affairs and exerting economic and political pressure on Venezuela.

    Venezuela currently has one of the worst economic and political crises in the country's history, which started in 2012 with changes on the global oil market. More than 95 percent of its export revenues come from oil and its derivatives.

    The difficult economic situation in Venezuela has led to accelerated inflation, and the Venezuelan bolivar exchange rate collapsed on the black market. In late March, Maduro announced the denomination of Bolivar set for June 4.

    The same month, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order to prevent anyone in the United States from using Venezuela's new digital currency. The executive order said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro issued the digital currency in an attempt to get around US sanctions. Additionally, the US Department of Treasury included four current and former Venezuelan officials on the sanctions list.

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