Fake News in Catalonia; Is Russia Meddling?

Brunilde Fioravanti
Novembre 17, 2017

He says the slate will run under the name "Together For Catalonia".

Russia's foreign minister is criticizing the claim by Spain's defense minister that a misinformation campaign about the Catalonia region's push for independence is being spread from Russian Federation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, also dismissed insinuations of Russian meddling in Catalonia as unsubstantiated.

On Monday, Spain's Defense Minister Maria Dolores de Cospedal said in recent months, "many actions" to mount a misinformation campaign to destabilize Catalonia had "come from Russian territory". She said that Spain had no indication that Russia's government was involved.

Several Spanish officials have raised concerns about allegations that Russian social media bots stoked divisions in Spain amid high tensions in early October, when Catalan officials pushed ahead with an independence referendum that was branded illegal by the state.

Top government officials in Russian Federation on Wednesday said there was no proof that Moscow interfered in Catalonia's independence bid, adding that such allegations were "hysterical" and could instead be attributed to domestic issues in Spain.

Participants wave Spanish flags as the Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy speaks to the crowd during a Catalan regional People's Party meeting in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Nov 12, 2017.

"We consider these accusations unfounded", Peskov said Wednesday, adding that Spain's concerns sounded like a "continuation of the hysteria in the USA and some other countries".

"A possible explanation is that in capitals where such accusations come from, be it Madrid or London, there are plenty of unresolved domestic problems", Lavrov said. "And, probably, such a hot sensational hysteria is being fueled up in order to divert the attention of their voters away from the inability to solve these domestic issues", the minister said.

De Cospedal declined to guess what impact the disinformation might be having on the election campaign or how big the fake news campaign might be.

Spain said last week that the signs don't necessarily mean the Russian government is involved, and it hasn't made public any evidence to back the interference claim.

Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said Friday that he believes relations between Spain and Russian Federation will not deteriorate over the media reports of Russia's alleged interference in the crisis in Catalonia and dissemination of biased accounts of events.

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