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CARACAS - Venezuela's opposition will on Thursday seek to maintain pressure on isolated President Nicolas Maduro after congress chief Juan Guaido swore himself in as interim head of state with the support of nations around the region.
Guaido won diplomatic backing from the United States, Canada and right-leaning Latin American governments on Wednesday after declaring himself leader before ebullient supporters who thronged the streets of Caracas in hopes of change.The European Union said the democratic will of Venezuelans "cannot be ignored" and called for the "civil rights, freedom and safety" of Guaido to be respected, but stopped short of recognizing him as leader.
The 35-year-old industrial engineer, catapulted almost overnight to national leader, has promised free and fair elections, a transition government to revive the hyperinflation-riddled economy and an amnesty for military officers if they help push Maduro from power.
He faces the daunting task of pushing forward the transition plan without control over crucial state institutions and armed forces that have disavowed him.
Military commanders, including Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, have so far promised to stick with socialist Maduro.
Russia, which has invested heavily in Venezuela's oil industry and provided support to its armed forces, warned Washington against military intervention and said it would protect the country's sovereignty.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russian journal International Affairs that Moscow would defend the principle of non-interference in Venezuela's affairs. He did not mention Maduro by name, but made clear Moscow backed his government.
Turkey took a similar line, with President Tayyip Erdogan calling Maduro to offer support.
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