UPDATE: A spokesperson for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, clarified the position of Russia towards the crisis:
It is true that Sergey Ryabkov said when answering questions from journalists that Russia will treat Jeanine Anez as “Bolivia’s leader,” but he went on to add that this will last “until the election takes place.” There has to be clarity on this point in terms of the words we use. We are not talking about recognising what happened in Bolivia as a legitimate process. This is not something we are dealing with here.
We have already shared our perspective with the international community. Let me remind you that Russia expressed its concern with what had happened in Bolivia. In the course of a domestic political crisis in the country the government’s determination to find constructive dialogue-based solutions was wiped out by developments typical of a well-orchestrated government coup. We have not changed our perspective since.
We also took note of the subsequent developments when, unfortunately, senior government officials were removed from office and left the country. You are also aware of the fact that Russia called on all political forces in Bolivia to use their best judgement and show responsibility in order to find a constitutional way out of this situation in the interests of peace and calm, putting government institutions back in control, ensuring the rights of all citizens and promoting the country’s socioeconomic development.
It is against this backdrop that the statement by Sergey Ryabkov must be interpreted.
On November 14th, protests and clashes in Bolivia continued, both in support of self-proclaimed interim president Jeanine Anez and in support of former President Evo Morales.
Continuing from the previous days, the indigenous people, as Evo Morales was also one, didn’t stop their protests.
A user on Twitter used the chance to remind an old tweet by Jeanine Anez, from 2013:
The new President of Bolivia: "I dream of a Bolivia free of satanic indigenous rites, the city is not for the Indians who should stay in the highlands or the Chaco". pic.twitter.com/nMwKx21nKp
— dont_panic (@dont_panic) November 13, 2019
To further exacerbate the situation, the Bolivian Parliament, by a majority vote, and with a quorum, elected the new head of the lower house, Sergio Choke. Like Morales, Choke is a representative of the indigenous peoples of Bolivia, who make up the majority of the population.
He said that Evo Morales is the constitutional president of the country, after which he issued a decree requiring the army to leave the streets of Bolivian cities and return to the barracks.
De jure a dual power was formed – a parliament that supported Morales and the coup organizers led by Anez. In the coming days, the parties will obviously consolidate their forces for the subsequent struggle for power.
There are videos circulating on Twitter showing Evo Morales supporters gathering to fight against the opposition that seized power. It is notable that these videos were published by the official Twitter account of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Сторонники Эво Моралеса захватили шоссе, ведущее от Ла-Паса к городу Альто-Бени и обратились к гражданам Боливии с обращением:
"Товарищи! Спящий лев проснулся! Время боя пришло! Да здравствует Эво Моралес! Да здравствует Вифала!"#боливия #bolivia pic.twitter.com/r1v2YaGXuR
— Донецкая Республика (@dnrpress) November 14, 2019
The first tweet translates to:
“Supporters of Evo Morales seized the highway leading from La Paz to the city of Alto Beni and appealed to the citizens of Bolivia with the appeal: “Comrades! The sleeping lion has woken up! The battle has come! Long live Evo Morales! Long live Bethal!””
And the second one translates to:
“Several thousand supporters of Evo Morales arrived in the city of El Alto, where they will unite with local self-defense forces to “stop the racist coup d’etat carried out by the United States and the oligarchs with the complicity of the army and police …”
At the same time, the opposition, following the coup is struggling with consolidating power.
Following the appointment of Sergio Choke, parliament also refused to acknowledge Anez as the legitimate president of Bolivia, since she assumed the interim-president post against the constitution without a vote from the parliament.
Against the backdrop of large-scale protests of the indigenous population and peasants, as well as some trade unions, which stated that they did not recognize the coup’s seizure of power, the Chamber of Deputies of the Bolivian Parliament announced that the deputies did not recognize the coup and considered Evo Morales the legitimate president of the country.
At the same time, only Morales’ party has a quorum to take decisions, but the coup-organizers are clearly not interesting in taking such decisions and are attempting to make unilaterally.
In the context of the complete collapse of the highest executive power, the supreme legislative body of Bolivia, in fact, declared its non-recognition of the coup. Morales supporters have a majority there and have virtually blocked attempts to pass a resolution that would legitimize Morales’s resignation.
Essentially, the coup-plotters can now only resign to force to impose their rule and push Morales’ resignation through.
Evo Morales also announced that he considers himself the president of Bolivia, until Parliament resigns. And since the resignation was not accepted, then Morales is still the president legally, and the coup-plotters could not legally legitimize the seizure of power.
Meanwhile, more than 1000 supporters of Morales were arrested per day, the scope of repression against opponents of the coup is progressively escalating. A civil war nears dangerously close.
At the same time, Venezuelan President Maduro called on the armed forces to fulfill their duty to the people and restore Morales back to his position.
The Parliament of Argentina condemned the military coup in Bolivia and the attack on Bolivian democracy.
Cuba, Mexico, and Nicaragua also described the events in Bolivia, accompanied by violent rallies, attacks on officials, arson incidents, and occupation of buildings, as a coup.
At the same time, both the US and Russia recognized Jeanine Anez’ coup government.
The US’ support was expressed by Acting Assistant Secretary for US Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Michael Kozak.
El presidente interino del Senado, Añez, asumió las responsabilidades del presidente interino de #Bolivia. Esperamos con interés trabajar con ella y otras autoridades civiles del país mientras organizan elecciones libres y justas lo antes posible de acuerdo con la constitución.
— Michael G. Kozak (@WHAAsstSecty) November 13, 2019
“Acting Senate President Anez has assumed responsibilities of Interim Constitutional President of Bolivia. We look forward to working with her [Anez] and Bolivia’s other civilian authorities as they arrange free and fair elections as soon as possible, in accordance with Bolivia’s Constitution”, Kozak wrote.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Moscow recognizes the acting president of Bolivia, Senator Janine Agnes as head of state, but only until an election is organized.
This decision was made due to the fact that it was she who was to take the place of the interim head of the republic in accordance with the law after the resignation of the leadership. At the same time, the events preceding the change of power in the country, the Russian side regards as a coup.
The new authorities in Bolivia recognized the opposition politician Juan Guaido as the president of Venezuela, while Russia continues to consider the legitimate president of Nicolas Maduro.
Russia’s attempts to be neutral in its international relations is somewhat commendable, since it would like to show that it is prepared to partner with any side in order to avoid any escalations. This is obvious even in its international policy towards the US and its agressive proxies – diplomatic channels are always the go-to response, prior to any other actions.
The decision to recognize Bolivia’s coup government, even in such a “conditional” manner is questionable and it may lead to Russia losing an ally in Latin America.
Events in Venezuela were a very obvious example that the US’ competitors in the face of China, Russia and Cuba could foil regime change attempts, at the detriment of some diplomatic relations.
It is questionable whether losing the country with the biggest lithium reserves as an ally is the wisest move in hindsight.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- “No No You Guys, THIS US-Backed Military Coup Is Perfectly Legitimate!”
- Violence and Repression Escalate Following Bolivian Coup [Graphic Videos, Photos 18+]
- Bolivian Coup: Opposition Leader Names Herself Interim President, While Riots Continue