The sudden appearance of a Russian jetliner at an airport in Caracas this week fueled rumors that embattled President Nicolas Maduro’s ally was going to help him swipe 20 tons of Venezuela’s gold reserves.
Venezuelan lawmaker Jose Guerra claimed on Twitter that the Russian Boeing 777, owned by the airline Nordwind, that landed in Caracas Monday was there to transport the gold from the country’s central bank.
Russian Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina on Thursday shot down reports that Venezuela’s gold was winging its way to Russia, a staunch backer of the hard-left socialist Maduro.
And Foreign 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.
Guerra is a former central bank economist who reportedly remains in contact with former colleagues.
The gold is worth about $840 million and is roughly 20 percent of the country’s gold reserves.