Spain sees Russian interference in Catalonia separatist vote

Russian President Vladimir Putin  . Just like the US, Spain sees Russian interference in Catalonia separatist vote
Russian President Vladimir Putin . Just like the US, Spain sees Russian interference in Catalonia separatist vote
Madrid believes Russian-based groups used online social media to heavily promote Catalonia’s independence referendum last month in an attempt to destabilize Spain, Spanish ministers said on Monday.

Spain’s defense and foreign ministers said they had evidence that state and private-sector Russian groups, as well as groups in Venezuela, used Twitter, Facebook and other Internet sites to massively publicize the separatist cause and swing public opinion behind it in the run-up to the Oct. 1 referendum.

Catalonia’s separatist leaders have denied that Russian interference helped them in the vote.

“What we know today is that much of this came from Russian territory,” Spanish Defence Minister Maria Dolores de Cospedal said of Russian-based internet support.

“These are groups that, public and private, are trying to influence the situation and create instability in Europe,” she told reporters at a meeting of EU foreign and defense ministers in Brussels.

Asked if Madrid was certain of the accusations, Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis, also at the meeting, said: “Yes, we have proof.”

Dastis said Spain had detected false accounts on social media, half of which were traced back to Russia and another 30 percent to Venezuela, created to amplify the benefits of the separatist cause by re-publishing messages and posts.

Ramon Tremosa, the EU lawmaker for the PDeCat party of Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont, repeated on Monday that Russian interference had played no part in the referendum.

“Those that say Russia is helping Catalonia are those that have helped the Russian fleet in recent years, despite the EU’s boycott,” Tremosa tweeted, referring to Spanish media reports that Spain was allowing Russian warships to refuel at its ports.

Those who voted in the referendum opted overwhelmingly for independence. But turnout was only about 43 percent as Catalans who favor remaining part of Spain mainly boycotted the ballot.

The separatist vote has plunged Spain, the euro zone’s fourth-biggest economy, into its worst constitutional crisis since its return to democracy in the 1970s.

Dastis said he had raised the issue with the Kremlin.

Moscow has repeatedly denied any such interference and accuses the West of a campaign to discredit Russia.

NATO believes Moscow is involved in a deliberately ambiguous strategy of information warfare and disinformation to try to divide the West and break its unity over economic sanctions imposed on Russia following its 2014 annexation of Crimea.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in January that Russia interfered in the U.S. election to try to help President Donald Trump defeat rival Hillary Clinton by hacking and releasing emails and spreading propaganda via social media.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who attended the EU meeting in Brussels, declined to comment on Spain’s accusations, but the alliance’s top commander said last week that Russian interference was a concern.

NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Curtis Scaparotti said “Russian malign influence” was trying to sway elections and other decisions in the West, describing it as a “destabilization campaign,” although he did not directly address the Catalonia referendum.

REUTERS

  • Niemals

    Right now we have a propaganda war in Europe, Putin (Russia) is trying to weaken the EU and is spreading targeted disinformation, especially in the Western Balkans.
    Many critics in Brussels are convinced of that.
    Now one tries to develop a counter strategy, sickening.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2891a9eba11b81a37f2af3edb962063335b11c1f743d22f40666fe8952507848.jpg “Sputnik” in Serbien
    SPUTNIK is responsible for online and radio coverage of the Kremlin financed RT.
    EU should counter Russian media
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a64e3b269240959157a0dc09ec6c8b4253f2ab16c1cce150e9206292bd37ccd9.jpg Global player to enforce Russian interests: RT, formerly known as Russia Today
    It is a propaganda battle of the first grade.
    Russia is fighting with the West for interpretative sovereignty in the current crisis.
    Now several countries are calling for the EU to be more vigorous against it.

    Four European countries are demanding that the European Commission act against Russia’s “propaganda campaign” in the Ukraine conflict.
    The Russian “propaganda” aims to impede the “unity of the EU and the West,” says the letter. “At the same time, free media in Russia are being repressed, intimidated and driven out of public space by the government.” Foreign media would be “discriminated and forced to close”.

    Russia is under pressure because of Western economic sanctions in the Ukraine conflict.
    However, around 15.4 billion rubles (263.2 million €) will be available next year for expanding the international offer of “Russia Today” (RT) – around 41% more than before, according to the business paper “RBK daily”. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8d3c1d464f75b6e4da52d1ae07985d8af8e23369681e794475dc64be575c8905.jpg
    For the new international news agency sputniknews.com should flow in addition 6.48 billion rubles, two and a half times as much as for the previous state agency Ria Nowosti, which was dissolved.