Venezuelan Opposition Leader Cancels Russia Trip, Fearing Passport Seizure

Julio Borges, president of the National Assembly, listens during a session in Caracas, Venezuela, on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro's opponents have taken to the streets in recent days after the country's top court tried to quash the opposition-controlled congress. They are calling for authorities to hold fresh elections and purge institutions of socialist party loyalists.

Photographer: Carlos Becerra/Bloomberg

Venezuela’s top opposition leader canceled plans to visit Russia for talks aimed at building relations with a major foreign backer of President Nicolas Maduro because he feared authorities would confiscate his passport, an ally said.

National Assembly President Julio Borges “received information that they planned to take away his passport,” Alejandro Martinez Ubieda said by phone on Monday. “He decided to stay, he didn’t want to run the risk,” said Ubieda, who’s in St. Petersburg as secretary of the Venezuelan delegation attending an international parliamentary forum. 

Borges had planned to leave Venezuela on Sunday to attend the forum. Ubieda said he hoped that opposition representatives would still meet with Russian parliamentarians.

Maduro visited Russia earlier this month to reaffirm the alliance with the South American nation, which is in crisis after the collapse in oil prices and increasingly reliant on Kremlin aid. At the same time, the Kremlin may be hedging its bets by establishing links to the opposition that’s challenging Maduro’s socialist regime. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov disclosed last month that Russia was willing to talk to Venezuela’s opposition.

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