Russian mercenaries from the Wagner militants’ group went to Venezuela to protect President Nicolas Maduro, according to Reuters, which cited sources close to the organization.
As reported, the first group of mercenaries arrived in Venezuela before the presidential elections in May 2018; the others came there recently. However, it is unknown whether the first group remained in the country.
Wagner group is an unofficial armed formation, often called the Russian private military company. According to the newspaper, they flew to Venezuela not from Russia, but from other countries where they performed military missions.
Yevgeny Shabayev, who is considered the ataman of the Khovrino Cossack society said that up to 400 mercenaries from Russia can be found in Venezuela. According to him, the task of the mercenaries is to prevent the president from being detained by his own guards, among whom may be opposition supporters.
As we reported, on Wednesday, January 23, the opposition leader and the head of the National Assembly of Venezuela Juan Guaido declared himself interim president of Venezuela at a mass protest rally and took the oath before thousands of opposition supporters.
He decided to do this on the day when mass protests against the head of state Nicolas Maduro were held in Caracas and in other cities of the Latin American country. People are angry that this week in Caracas, the security services used force to disperse the demonstrators.
The change of power in Venezuela was also supported by the U.S., Canada, the European Union, and a number of South American countries: Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay, Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica, and Guatemala.
The presidents of Mexico and Bolivia refused to recognize the “coup”.
Venezuela has been undergoing a severe economic crisis for several years. Oil production collapsed one and a half times, prices are growing at a frantic pace, and the national currency, the bolivar, continues to depreciate rapidly.
There is a shortage of food, the crisis forces Venezuelans to flee the country. According to various estimates, 2-4 million people have already left Venezuela. Nicolas Maduro accuses the opposition and the United States, which imposed sanctions against the country.