The “Russian trace” in Catalan affairs

Submitted on Mon, 12/13/2021 - 17:00

We have to return once again to the myth regarding the “Russian trace” in Catalan affairs. 

We have commented on the publication – or rather a fake – in the Spanish media alleging that Russia “meddled” in the preparations for Catalonia’s illegitimate independence referendum in 2017.   I am referring to the reprints of a fake by US journalist Michael Schwirtz published by The New York Times in September 2021.   Russia has repeatedly pointed to the absurdity of the Schwirtz allegations, particularly in the context of his “evidence” (in fact, fakes pure and simple) based on a “10-page European intelligence report.” 

This position has been confirmed by a recent story in El Diario, a popular Spanish news website, which quotes the EU diplomatic service as saying in reply to a request from Catalan European MPs (including from Carles Puigdemont, the mastermind of the Catalan referendum) that the “EU Intelligence and Situation Centre has nothing to do with the report mentioned in the New York Times article.”

We can only regret the haste and lack of responsibility with which the European Parliament, based on fake info concocted by overseas “experts,” decided to investigate what they call Russia’s presumed contacts with the Catalan separatists. After all, they could have done this work in advance by sending requests to relevant organisations, obtaining their replies and thus forming an objective picture.   But no, this doesn’t seem to be part of the European Parliament’s working methods. The desire to spot the notorious “Russian trace” must have prevailed over the need for the most basic fact checking.  This is yet another example of how politicking murders professionalism. We will wait and see whether The New York Times will have the courage to publish a denial in view of the newly emerged circumstances. Given that NYT correspondents are posted in Russia, they might influence their colleagues at home to return to this topic and refute their own claims. I understand that this is hard for them, but it would be the right thing to do from the perspective of staying true to journalism as a profession. 

Source: Briefing by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova