The Latest: Russia: No plans to evacuate Venezuela diplomats

The Latest: Russia: No plans to evacuate Venezuela diplomats
People chant anti-government slogans in a walkout against President Nicolas Maduro, in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. Venezuelans are exiting their homes and workplaces in a walkout organized by the opposition to demand that Maduro leave power. (AP Photo/Boris Vergara)

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The latest on the political crisis in Venezuela (all times local):

9:45 a.m.

The spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry says there are no plans underway for evacuation of the country’s diplomats or other citizens from Venezuela, but is declining to comment on why a Russian airliner showed up in the Venezuelan capital’s airport.

The arrival of the Boeing 777 belonging to Russian airline Nordwind on Monday has led to widespread speculation, including that Venezuelan officials might be aiming to spirit tons of gold reserves out of the country as a political crisis deepens.

The Associated Press was unable to verify the authenticity of that claim.

Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters Thursday that she could not comment on the airliner, “which was not sent for official goals.”

“I can say that this is not about evacuation of Russian diplomats, or their family members or Russian citizens that are employees of overseas agencies or companies,” she said.

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9:15 a.m.

The European Parliament is calling on the European Union’s member states to recognize Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president.

The 28-member bloc is still defining its position on the crisis there.

The EU legislature approved by a 439-104 margin a resolution that also condemned the continued violence and the detention of journalists who sought to cover events there.

“All of Venezuela is watching us,” said Esteban Gonzalez Pons of the Christian Democrat EPP group. “Let’s make Venezuelan history today by recognizing the democratic and legitimate power of Venezuela.”

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called on the South American country to release journalists who were arrested covering the crisis.

“We expect them to be released immediately,” she said in Bucharest where EU foreign ministers are set to discuss the crisis later Thursday.

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5 a.m.

The Spanish government has condemned the detention of three reporters and a driver working for Spain’s state-run EFE news agency in Venezuela’s capital.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s office issued a statement Thursday calling for their immediate release.

EFE has reported that Colombian photographer Leonardo Munoz disappeared on Wednesday morning in Caracas and that two more reporters, Spaniard Gonzalo Dominguez and Colombian Mauren Barriga, were later taken away from their office by members of Venezuelan intelligence service Sebin. Spain’s government says a Venezuelan driver working for the news agency was also taken into custody. He wasn’t identified.

Sanchez has said that Spain’s government will endorse Juan Guaido as interim president of Venezuela if embattled President Nicolas Maduro doesn’t call a presidential election by Sunday.