Russia opposes sanctions on Venezuela

Moscow, May 29 (EFE).- Russia opposes any foreign interference in the affairs of Venezuela, including the imposition of sanctions, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said here Thursday at a joint press conference with his Venezuelan counterpart.

"All problems should be solved on the constitutional basis, without external interference, as well as without sanctions or threats to impose them," Lavrov said following talks with Venezuela's Elias Jaua.

Moscow supports Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's efforts, in collaboration with the Vatican and the Union of South American Nations, to establish a negotiating process between the government and "a constructive opposition," Russia's top diplomat said.

His comments came a day after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to impose sanctions on Venezuelan officials accused of violating human rights during the last three months of anti-government protests in the Andean nation.

Violence surrounding those protests has claimed the lives of 42 people, including both opponents and supporters of Maduro as well as bystanders and members of the security forces. Venezuelan prosecutors have charged government agents in connection with some of the deaths.

While critical of Caracas, President Barack Obama's administration seems reluctant to get further involved in Venezuela, especially since other countries in the region have stepped forward as mediators.

Standing alongside Lavrov, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jaua compared the anti-government movement in his country to the events that led in February to the toppling of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

"We have been able to learn in detail the complex process that brought the overthrow of Ukraine's constitutional government, and the consequences," Jaua said.

Venezuela condemns "this entire process of the so-called color revolutions," he said, referring to what Caracas sees as a series of attempted coups orchestrated by Washington.

The foreign ministers of the two oil-rich countries said they had high hopes for the 10th meeting of the Russia-Venezuela High Level Commission, set to get under way Friday in Moscow.

"I am sure that tomorrow after the work of this commission, new accords that promote our economic association will be announced," Lavrov said.