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Embattled Venezuelan leader to meet Putin Wednesday

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

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MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) — Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro will meet Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, the Kremlin said, as the South American leader seeks support after months of political turmoil in his country.

Venezuela has been rocked by deadly protests and economic chaos that has caused dire shortages of food and medicine.

International powers accuse Maduro of dismantling democracy by taking over state institutions in a bid to counter opposition pressure for him to quit.

Maduro will be in Moscow "on a working visit," notably to take part in an international energy forum, the Kremlin said in a statement.

The two leaders will discuss the "development of strategic partnership of the two countries," the statement added without saying whether the two leaders would discuss economic aid for Venezuela.

Earlier this week, Maduro announced plans for an international tour in which he is slated to visit Russia before heading to authoritarian Belarus and Turkey.

Madurov's leftist government is increasingly isolated internationally, with close to 130 people killed in anti-regime protests and the United States putting the Venezuelan president under direct sanctions.

Moscow has sided with Maduro's regime over the protests and criticised the Venezuelan opposition for "disrupting" elections.

"Venezuela has the full and absolute support of Russia," Maduro said in August, calling Putin a "man of peace."

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