November 11, 2019 / 9:16 AM / a month ago

Russia accuses Bolivian opposition of unleashing violence

People celebrate after Bolivia's President Evo Morales announced that he will resign, in La Paz, Bolivia November 10, 2019. REUTERS/Andrea Martinez

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia accused Bolivia’s opposition of unleashing violence in the South American nation and said it looked like the government’s hopes for dialogue had been swept aside by an orchestrated coup.

Bolivian President Evo Morales said on Sunday he was resigning to ease violence that has gripped Bolivia since a disputed election, but stoked fears of more unrest by saying he was the victim of a coup and faced arrest.

Moscow has commercial interests in Bolivia where Russia’s state nuclear agency is building a nuclear centre. Morales visited Moscow for talks with President Vladimir Putin in June, pointing to Bolivian gas and lithium as areas for cooperation.

“We are alarmed by the dramatic development of events in Bolivia where a wave of violence unleashed by the opposition has not allowed Morales to complete his presidential mandate,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday.

“It is a matter of deep concern that during the domestic political crisis in the country, the government’s readiness to seek constructive solutions through dialogue was swept away by the development of events in the mould of an orchestrated coup.”

The Kremlin called for calm in the country and said it hoped foreign powers would not try to meddle in the crisis. Morales has not been in contact with Moscow or requested asylum there, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Morales announced his resignation after the Bolivian military called on him to do so following violent clashes and weeks of post-election protests.

Margarita Simonyan, chief editor of Russia’s state-funded RT television station, took to Twitter in the early hours of Monday to offer Morales a job as a presenter on its Spanish language service.

Reporting by Tom Balmforth; Additional reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Alex Richardson and Pravin Char

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