DISINFO: The NYT article on Russia and Catalonia was paid by Europe and NATO; its author linked to US intelligence
  • Outlet: mundo.sputniknews.com (archived)*
  • Date of publication: September 11, 2021
  • Article language(s): Spanish
  • Reported in: Issue 264
  • Countries / regions discussed: Russia, US, EU, Spain
Catalonia The New York Times Intelligence services Anti-Russian

DISINFO: The NYT article on Russia and Catalonia was paid by Europe and NATO; its author linked to US intelligence


The author of the NYT article on Russian alleged meddling in Catalonia, Michael Schwirtz, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2020 for his articles on Russian interference and hybrid war against the West. He is probably very close to the US intelligence service, as nobody receives a Pulitzer Prize for so little, so this award is another move against Russia. The NYT article is an attempt to return to the fairytale of Russia’s interference. It has probably been paid from Europe, from its intelligence controls, essentially NATO, with the acquiescence of the US, and with Schwirtz being paid for putting his signature on it.


This disinformation story is a reaction to the publication of a New York Times article about contacts between top Catalonian pro-independence figures and Russian officials, which were acknowledged by former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and his top advisor Josep Lluis Alay.

There are no proofs to back the claim that Michael Schwirtz has links to US intelligence services or that the NYT article was commissioned by any external actor. Pro-Kremlin disinformation has previously attacked the Pulitzer Prize when articles exposing Russian wrongdoings have been awarded, as in 2018 and again in 2020. Schwirtz was awarded for his 2019 article on Russia’s military intelligence (GRU) Unit 29155. These findings have been confirmed afterwards by other investigators such as Bellingcat or French and Czech security officials.

Contrary to the claim, Russian interference in Western affairs is not a “fairytale” but a fact backed by massive evidence, including electoral processes and voting in the US, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. Regarding Catalonia, both Spanish journalist David Alandete and researcher and associate professor at Georgetown University Javier Lesaca have demonstrated that Russian state outlets and bots tried to influence the pro-independence referendum in October 2017.

See other examples of similar disinformation narratives, such as claims that the US never presented evidence of Russia’s involvement in election interference or cyberattacks or that the ‘highly likely’ argument is used again to spread lies about Russia.


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Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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