Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro slapped a travel ban Tuesday on Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader challenging his presidency.
Guaidó’s assets were also frozen and a probe was announced that could lead to his arrest.
Attorney General Tarek Saab announced the parliamentary investigation into Guaidó, who last week declared himself the rightful president of the beleaguered country.
Simultaneously, the Supreme Court issued the travel ban and asset freeze.
Guaidó "is prohibited from leaving the country until the end of the (preliminary) investigation" for having "caused harm to peace in the republic,” Supreme Court President Maikel Moreno, a Maduro loyalist, said.
Reacting to the news, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton warned: “there will be serious consequences for those who attempt to subvert democracy and harm Guaidó.”
Despite the state intimidation, Maduro is trying to portray himself to his allies as a leader willing to compromise.
In interviews published Wednesday by Russian news agencies, Maduro said he was prepared to meet with the opposition and even agree to early congressional elections.
“I am ready to sit down at the negotiating table with the opposition so that we could talk for the good of Venezuela," Maduro told Russia's state-run RIA Novosti news agency. “It would be very good to conduct parliamentary elections at an earlier stage. It would be a good form of political discussion.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has emerged as a major supporter of Maduro since Guaidó’s declaration.
“Putin is giving us support on all levels and we have received it with much pleasure and gratitude,” Maduro told Sputnik, another state-run Russian news agency.
Along with Russia, China, Turkey and Cuba have also expressed support for Maduro, while Guaidó’s claim has received backing from the U.S., Canada and many other Western nations.
Another wave of protests has been organized by the opposition for Wednesday, with the hope of peeling off members of the military loyal to Maduro in favor of his 35-year-old opponent.
At an impromptu press conference Sunday, Guaidó called on military personnel to “be on the side of the constitution,” imploring them: “Don’t shoot the people of Venezuela.”
“Venezuela has risen up to dream of the country we want to be,” he told German newspaper Bild. “We must take to the street.”
Guaidó also revealed a mass march had been organized for Saturday.
Clashes between protesters and security forces have led to at least 40 deaths and some 850 arrests since January 21, according to the UN.
After being symbolically sworn in as president last Wednesday, Guaidó has kept a low profile, constantly moving and only making public appearances in places where he's confident he won't be arrested.
Maduro, on the other hand, has visited several military bases, tweeting images of Venezuela’s military hardware, as well as announcing the creation of 50,000 “popular defense units” in “every corner of the country to support and strengthen the integral defense of the homeland.”
Cover image: Juan Guaidó, who has appointed himself interim president speaks during a meeting with deputies, media and supporters organized by the National Assembly at Plaza Bolivar of Chacao on January 25, 2019 in Caracas, Venezuela. (Edilzon Gamez/Getty Images)