Disinfo: Germany and Belgium called Spain to annul politically motivated sentences against Catalan leaders

Summary

Parallels can be drawn between the EU calls to release Navalny and the politically motivated prison sentences against Catalan pro-independence leaders, which courts in Germany and Belgium called Spanish authorities to annul.

Spanish justice is so exemplary inside the EU that Belgium continues protecting Carles Puigdemont and refuses to extradite him, questioning – as the whole EU – the legitimacy of Spain’s Supreme Court.

Disproof

The affirmation is an attempt to deflect any criticism about the arrest and imprisonment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the fierce crackdown on demonstrators who protested it.

The claim is not true. While courts in Germany and Belgium rejected the extradition of Catalan pro-independence leader and former regional president Carles Puigdemont to Spain in 2018, they did it for technical reasons. For the German court, the crime of rebellion of which Puigdemont is accused in Spain doesn’t exist in Germany, which renders extradition impossible, though the court considered possible to carry it out on charges of embezzlement if evidence was presented to judges.

The Belgian court considered that the Spanish authorities who issued the extradition warrant were not competent to do so, and that re-issued European warrants should have been backed up by new Spanish arrest warrants in order to be valid. A similar decision about former Catalan minister Lluis Puig was taken in 2020 by a Belgian court, which ruled that Puigdemont and other two Catalan pro-independence leaders are elected members of the European Parliament and as such enjoy immunity from prosecution. Spain has asked the parliament to strip them of this privilege, but a decision on this by their fellow MEPs has been delayed by the coronavirus crisis. At no point did any of those courts call Spanish authorities to “annul politically motivated sentences” against Catalan leaders, contrary to what Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov affirmed in his press conference, which was marred with false statements.

See other examples in our database, such as claims that Borrell’s mission was to publicly flog Russia; that he is not free to choose an independent political course; that EU diplomats took part in unsanctioned rallies and Russia’s patience has limits; and that Borrell knows that Navalny was not poisoned, but lies about it.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 231
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 08/02/2021
  • Outlet language(s) Spanish, Castilian
  • Country: EU, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Russia
  • Keywords: Josep Borrell, Sergei Lavrov, Catalonia, Rule of law, Alexei Navalny
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Poland wants to have the worst possible relations with a neighboring nuclear superpower

We live in a country [Poland] where Russophobia has reached the level of official state policy. Work is being done to redefine the legal definition of espionage to include cooperation with media from the countries considered as hostile.

It is fascinating to see that Polish public discourse is dominated by the idea that Poland needs to have the worst possible relations with a neighbor, who is a nuclear superpower.

Disproof

This message is a part of the Kremlin’s widespread narrative about Russophobic Poland. The Kremlin-controlled media regularly accuse the political elites of Poland of Russophobia and the implementation of anti-Russian policies.

The Polish authorities do not promote Russophobia or any type of “anti-Russian paranoia”. The Polish authorities have repeatedly stated that Poland is willing to improve its relations with Russia – these relations will automatically improve if Russia starts observing the regulations of international law. In a statement of 21 December 2019, the Polish authorities reiterated their openness to continue the historical dialogue with Russia, for example through restarting the work of the bilateral Group on Difficult Issues.

The Masters behind the meddling in Russian affairs need a new fake leader

As the bane of foreign meddling in Russia’s sovereign affairs and boy-toy of MSM Alexey Navalny retired from the scene after he finally faced the widely-expected, but still pretty soft punishment for his multiple violations of the law. So now, the masters behind the attempt to destabilize Russia needs some another fake leader of its network of influence. Fortunately, for them, there is a candidate.

Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya, which was proclaimed the ‘winner’ of the presidential election in Belarus by NATO member states, but fled the country and is now hiding in Lithuania, is already promoting Navalny’s wife, Yulia, as the ‘leader’ of the ‘Russian opposition’.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Alexei Navalny. The claim that Navalny is somehow used by the West and foreign special services for the political destabilisation of Russia is disinformation.

Anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny has long been the most prominent face of Russian opposition to President Vladimir Putin. His candidacy in the 2018 presidential election was banned by authorities over his conviction by a Russian court for embezzlement, which bars him from running for office. He has been arrested and imprisoned several times during his political career.

Russia was forced to expel EU diplomats who participated in illegal protests

Russia was forced to expel three diplomats from Poland, Sweden, and Germany due to their participation in illegal pro-opposition protests on 23 January.

Disproof

The claim advances a pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative concerning the ongoing protests in support of jailed opposition activist Alexei Navalny.

None of the three diplomats actually participated in the demonstrations. The foreign ministries of Poland, Sweden, and Germany have all confirmed that their presence at the protests was linked solely to the fulfillment of their diplomatic duties of monitoring protests. According to the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, these duties include "[a]scertaining by all lawful means conditions and developments in the receiving State, and reporting thereon to the Government of the sending State" (Article 3(d)).