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Spain: Russian military group accused of interference in Catalonia
The National Audience has been investigating since September three alleged Russian spies, who are said to have traveled several times between 2016 and 2017 in Barcelona. At the time, the conflict with the Catalan separatists was at its peak, against the backdrop of an illegal referendum on October 1, 2017.
With our correspondent in Madrid , Diane Cambon
The investigation by the Spanish justice is classified secret, so we only know what is published by the press. The Spanish daily El País had access to certain information in the file. We know for example that the investigation targets three members of a Russian military group, made up of General Denis Sergeyev, alias Sergei Fedotov, who traveled twice to Catalonia between November 2016 and December 2017, and two other agents .
What seems to attract the attention of the Spanish judge is that their displacement just coincides with the moment when the Catalan separatists in power destabilize Spanish politics by organizing a referendum on the self-determination of Catalonia, totally prohibited by the Spanish Constitution. . Sergeiev, for example, a veteran of the intelligence center of the Russian armed forces, the GRU, went to Barcelona two days before the referendum was held on October 30 for 19 hours.
For the moment, no proof of the implication of these Russian agents in the conflict between Catalonia and Madrid
The interim government of Pedro Sanchez refused to comment on the revelations published in El País and on the involvement of these three agents in the Catalan conflict. The independence movement also stood out from all possible relationships with Russian spies. It even seems grotesque to him, he accuses Madrid of wanting to delegitimize his cause.
However, diplomatic sources have admitted that there have long been doubts about the practices of some Russian agents in Spain. This information would come from the American and British secret services concerning various actions of Russian destabilization in Europe, and in particular with the Catalan conflict.
And the reaction of Russian diplomacy was not long in coming ?
Indeed, the Russian Embassy in Spain reacted immediately to this new information, which accused it of wanting to destabilize Catalonia and the rest of Spain. In an ironic tweet, the embassy charged the legal proceedings, ridiculing it: " indeed, we must be wary of the supposed Russian spy unit 29 155, because there is a suspicious coincidence with article 155 of the Spanish Constitution. "
This article had been applied by the government of the time to take over the reins of power in Catalonia after the attempted declaration of independence by the Catalan government. Russian diplomacy then continued in the same tone, encouraging the country's highest judicial body, the Spanish National Court, to follow this lead.