Media ban and different sides’ support
On February 4, 2019, in response to the information that Russian media in the face of Sputnik, RIA Novosti and TASS correspondents were not accredited by Global Affairs Canada for Ottawa’s Lima Group meeting, the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Canada issued their official comment via Twitter, calling this decision of the Canadian Foreign Ministry “highly reprehensible and shameful.”
Russia’s diplomats perceive this choice as politically motivated. They see this incident as the deliberate targeting of specific news agencies which “runs contrary to Canada’s declared adherence to the freedom of speech.” The Russian Embassy in Ottawa calls it “harassment of reporters.”
“Canada should stop restricting journalists from reporting freely without obstruction or reprisal and must apply to itself the same rules and standards it demands from others to follow.”
The 10th ministerial meeting of the Lima Group took place in Ottawa on February 4, 2019. The Lima Group itself was established on August 8, 2017, to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Venezuela. Thirteen member-states (excluding Mexico) were joined by representatives from Ecuador, the European Union, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States for this meeting. Eleven members of the group (namely, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru) signed a 17-point statement of recognition and support for Juan Guaidó as the Interim President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, rejecting “attempts for dialogue initiated by various international actors” to back up Nicolas Maduro in power. In addition to that, a separate Ottawa declaration calling for international assistance to deal with the economic crisis in Venezuela was offered by Canada and endorsed by Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States. And the Government of Canada defined its contribution in a sum of $52.89 million.
In turn, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry’s statement on Venezuela, Russia portrays the situation in this country as the implementation of the “regime change scenario” inspired by “the United States and several other countries in the region.” On January 24, 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his support to Nicolas Maduro in their telephone conversation. As reported by the Kremlin, the internal political crisis in Venezuela was provoked by “destructive external interference” in violation of international order.