Russia still recognizes Nicolas Maduro instead of opposition leader Juan Guaido as the Venezuelan president and hopes bilateral cooperation between the two countries will continue, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday.
"Mr. Guaido is the parliamentary speaker. He is not the head of state. We do not recognize his status. Mr. Maduro is the head of state, and he and his government are our actual partners in Venezuela," Peskov was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.
He said Russia hopes to further expand trade and economic ties as well as cooperation of mutual benefit with Venezuela, despite the current chaotic political situation in the country.
"Everything happening in Venezuela is its internal affair, and the most important thing is to protect the country from interference by third states," Peskov said.
Speaking about Guaido's statements that he had sent messages to Russia asking for support, Peskov denied that Russia has received any message from the opposition leader, adding that Moscow will "study it" when the message comes.
Peskov also said Russia has nothing to do with the sale of Venezuelan gold, in response to previous media reports suggesting that the country's gold reserves are being transferred to Russia.
Peskov said it is Venezuela's "sovereign right" to make decisions about purchasing or selling its gold, on which Moscow does not have any information.
Guaido, head of the Venezuelan National Assembly, declared himself interim president during an anti-government rally on Jan. 23, which was recognized by the United States.
Maduro, in response, announced the severing of diplomatic and political ties with the United States.