Disinfo: Claims about Russian contacts in Catalonia are a stupid forgery

Summary

A New York Times article claiming that there were contacts between an advisor to the former Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, and Russia, cited a European intelligence report that the newspaper's reporters were able to see, while it later turned out to be a stupid forgery.

The newspaper claimed that Josep Lluís Alay, a senior advisor to the former Catalan President, met with Russian businessman Alexander Dmitrenko, foreign intelligence officials and Oleg Syromolotov, who is responsible for combating terrorism and serves as Russia’s deputy Foreign Minister. Syromolotov had never met Josep Lluís Alay in Moscow and outside Russia, and had no contacts with him, either in the past or the present.

Disproof

Recurrent self-victimisation technique to deny a piece of embarrassing news and qualify it as Russophobia or planned provocation.

The article from the New York Times is based on a report from European intelligence that synthesises a long investigation that included the interception of conversation between pro-independence figures in Catalonia. The leak from the Spanish police was also consulted by other media organisations like OCCRP or El Pais.

Asking for confirmation from Russian MFA: The meeting between an emissary of the independentists and Oleg V. Syromolotov, former chief of counterintelligence for the Federal Security Service is not information that is likely to be confirmed by the Russian MFA as secrecy is an important part of this profession. Moreover, this information is only a detail in this long investigation. The technique to focus on a small detail difficult to confirm to deny the whole story is classic in denial policy.

Moreover, the New York Times explains that this investigation did not establish Russian interference, though contacts happened, and the Catalonian side had a strong desire to please Russia and censored its own statements for this purpose. Secondly, Kremlin meddling in other countries' political life has long been proven by facts on many occasions.

Read also related stories: A publication of the New York Times about Catalonia is a stupid forgery, Macron distributes fake news on Russian meddling in referendums or Western criticism of the Navalny case is interference; Russia doesn’t mess with other countries' affairs.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 259
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 09/09/2021
  • Article language(s) Arabic,
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Spain, Russia
  • Keywords: Catalonia, election meddling, The New York Times
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The provocative nature of the Ukrainian leadership’s idea of holding the so-called “Crimea Platform” “summit” was recorded, despite the fact that the question of the return of Crimea to the Russian Federation was closed in March 2014. In this regard, attention is drawn to the fact that the European Union continues to pursue a discriminatory policy against inhabitants of the peninsula.

Relations between Moscow and Kyiv deteriorated after the 2014 coup in Ukraine, which led to the return of the Crimea to the bosom of Russia, and to the outbreak of armed conflict in the Donbas region (southeast of Ukraine) between Kyiv on the one hand and the "unrecognised" Donetsk and Luhansk republics on the other, which demanded more cultural and economic autonomy.

Disproof

An emerging disinformation narrative in response to the Crimea Platform Summit, a high-level international conference held on August 2021 that was initiated by Ukraine and focused on Russia's illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula, while claiming that the foundation of the DPR and LPR came as a response to the 2013-14 protests in Kyiv painted as a coup d'état.

Although Russia attempted to disguise its military occupation of Crimea with a hastily organised sham referendum in March 2014, there is no international recognition of Russia's actions. Several major countries and international organisations have overwhelmingly rejected this charade, including in multiple UN General Assembly resolutions and EU statements. European Council President Charles Michel emphasised during the first Crimea Platform Summit the “EU's unwavering stance: we do not and will not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia."

Disinfo: The West uses Russian protest movements as a fifth column to destabilise Russia

The West – the US and its satellite, the EU - uses a fifth column and a sixth column inside Russia to destabilise Russia and attack its sovereignty. The 5th column is made up of protest movements and the liberal press in Russia. The 6th column is made up of Russia’s liberal pro-Western elite that enjoys a dominant position in Russia's economy, educational system, foreign policy, and culture. The 5th column and the 6th column both have the same supervisors, sources of support, and systems of communication. The sixth column secretly sympathises with protest movements but is outwardly loyal to Putin. Russian actors that support and develop a culture of liberalism are usually involved in providing classified information to the West and in organising direct actions of sabotage and destabilisation in Russia.

Disproof

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The article’s message is also consistent with the recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative claiming that Western intelligence services have recruited Russian opposition politicians and independent journalists to conduct espionage, sabotage and destabilisation operations against the Russian state. It adds a new twist to this narrative by alleging that many highly influential top-level Russian officials have also been recruited as Western intelligence assets and are also carrying out such operations. There is no factual evidence to support the article’s claims.

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Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Nazism in the Baltic countries. The accusation of Nazism is one of the favourite techniques of pro-Kremlin outlets as explained in our past analysis Nazi east, Nazi west, Nazi over the cuckoo's nest.

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