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The Latest: Russia denounces US freeze of Venezuelan assets

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during the closing ceremony of the Sao Paulo Forum at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, July 28, 2019. The Sao Paulo forum, held almost annually and hosted by Cuba last year, was founded as Latin American leftists sought to re-organize after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

WASHINGTON — The Latest on relations between the United States and Venezuela (all times local):

5:35 a.m.

A senior Russian lawmaker has denounced the U.S. freeze of all Venezuelan government assets as a crude interference in the country’s internal affairs.

Konstantin Kosachev is the head of the Russian upper house’s international affairs committee and said Tuesday the Trump administration’s action amounts to “international banditry.” He added in remarks carried by the state RIA Novosti news agency that Washington’s move represents an “open meddling into Venezuela’s internal affairs.”

The U.S. ban blocks American companies and individuals from doing business with President Nicolás Maduro’s (nee-koh-LAHS’ mah-DOO’-rohz) government and its top supporters. It’s the first of its kind in the western hemisphere in more than three decades.

Russia has staunchly backed Maduro, while the U.S. and dozens of other nations have cast their support behind opposition leader Juan Guaidó (gwy-DOH’) and recognized him as Venezuela’s interim president.

The Maduro government has yet to respond.

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1:05 a.m.

The Trump administration has frozen all Venezuelan government assets in a dramatic escalation of tensions with Nicolás Maduro.

The ban places Maduro’s socialist administration alongside a short list of adversaries from Cuba, North Korea, Syria and Iran that have been targeted by such aggressive U.S. actions.

The ban blocks American companies and individuals from doing business with Maduro’s government and its top supporters. It came Monday night as an executive order from President Donald Trump and takes effect immediately.

Trump’s order spares Venezuela’s still sizable private sector. Yet it represents the most sweeping U.S. action to remove Maduro since the Trump administration recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s rightful leader in January.

The order also exposes foreign entities doing business with the Maduro government to U.S. retaliation.

The Maduro government has yet to respond.

The Associated Press