1708949771 A European intelligence report documented the Kremlin39s attempts to interfere

A European intelligence report documented the Kremlin's attempts to interfere in the “Procés” | Spain

A European intelligence report documented the Kremlin39s attempts to interfere

A confidential report from the European Union's Intelligence and Situation Center (Intcen) details Russia's attempts to influence the crisis in Catalonia and draws links between the independence movement and the Kremlin. The document, dated November 2017, a month after the secession referendum, talks about the networks “connected to the Russian secret services” and their presence in Catalonia, meetings of people close to the Kremlin with the Catalan government, etc Meetings of people “controlled” by another Russian secret service (the FSB) with “businessmen” from Barcelona. “Various Russian and Russia-affiliated individuals and separatist entities.” [vinculadas a Moscú] “have used a wide range of hybrid instruments (active measures) in a coordinated effort to influence the Catalan crisis,” says the report accessed by EL PAÍS. “It is very unlikely that these activities were carried out without the consent and support of the Russian government (Kremlin),” he emphasizes.

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Russia tried to influence the Catalan crisis using the means at its disposal, the European document says. He managed cybernetic tools such as “Russian and Venezuelan robot networks” to amplify messages on social networks and enable greater international distribution. He also used other tools, such as “individuals linked to the intelligence services” and political figures from pro-Russian secessionist movements in South Ossetia and Ukraine who are also linked to Moscow espionage and whose ties to the Kremlin remain, it says Report from this newspaper. The text analyzes some of those people who “offered their support” to the “Catalan independence leaders”, whose names it does not reveal; nor those of business people.

The document, which says it was prepared with “highly credible and confirmed intelligence information,” was written with data and elements provided by several European intelligence agencies, as the EU does not have its own service with agents in the area. The Intcen report, which depends on the Foreign Action Service, does not detail why it was written or whether it was commissioned by the local government (which changed in 2019), but it shows concern in the European Union about what is happening the secessionist referendum in Catalonia.

“A lot of the hybrid tools (active measures) that were used.” [en Cataluña] and the people who were active are recognized in other countries, says the document, which adds to another intelligence report on Russian interference in the 2016 US election – which ended in a victory for Republican Donald Trump, in which the Kremlin a â “concerted campaign to influence the outcome”. The report speaks of an “emboldened” Russia and the possibility that it will try to repeat its tactics in elections in European countries “to try to influence the results in its favor.”

The individuals and organizations that lead to the Kremlin

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The EU-Intcen report on the Kremlin's interference in the 2017 secession crisis focuses on three Russians – two with a presence in Catalonia and one with various contacts – whom it links to the intelligence services, and traces their moves until it connecting her to senior Russian government officials. One of these key figures in the conspiracy, also known in other countries, is Alexander Ionov, who, according to the report, is “suspected of having carried out cyberattacks” with a hacker network linked to the Russian military intelligence agency GRU. President of the anti-globalization movement of Russia, one Organization founded in 2012 that has carried out Kremlin-funded activities (e.g. congresses) in which, according to the report, one of the independence movements, Solidaritat Catalana per la, took part. Independence, which the document defines as “radical”.

The European Intelligence Center analyzes Ionov in the section that it devotes above all to the messages about the constitutional crisis, the disinformation and propaganda of the media around the Kremlin, the reinforcement in social networks – in which it also talks about figures such as Edward Snowden, the who lived in exile in Moscow, and Julian Assange, whose entourage helped shield the independence leaders' telecommunications, according to the document. It also details other hybrid activities, including the “election observers hired by Russian front groups discovered in Catalonia.” Ionov, who served as a lawyer for Russian hackers accused in the United States of cyber espionage during the 2016 election campaign, is accused in that country of orchestrating a years-long campaign of foreign malicious influence and using his anti-globalization organization to recruit U.S. politicians According to data from the 2023 case, groups are said to promote Russian state interests, spread pro-Russian propaganda and interfere in elections.

The document also talks about Dmitry Medoyev, who was the de facto minister of South Ossetia – which declared itself independent from Georgia just over three decades ago, with political, economic and military support from the Kremlin, which maintains bases in the area – and mentions his communication with the Catalan independence movement – and other contacts in regions of Italy at times when referendums were also being held to demand greater autonomy.” He also refers to his visits to Barcelona after the 1-O secession referendum with the aim , “to establish connections” and during which he assured that he would open an Ossetian representative office.

The report also describes the Catalan regional government's contacts with Alexander Zakharchenko, a pro-Russian Ukrainian separatist and leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), until he was assassinated in a bombing at a cafe in the Ukrainian Kremlin-controlled city of Donetsk in the summer of 2018.

“We assume that these contact tracing activities may be led by the Russian intelligence service FSB,” says Intcen. “The opponents of globalization, the individuals from South Ossetia and the DPR do not act alone or arbitrarily,” he continues. “These individuals and organizations are controlled by Russia and are important tools for the FSB and the GRU.” “For example, it is very likely that South Ossetia is being used by the Kremlin as a financial center to support Ukrainian separatists,” the report said Year 2017, three years after the start of the Donbas war. Promoted by the Kremlin by pro-Russian separatists, leading to Vladimir Putin's full-scale invasion two years ago. “Therefore, Medoyev’s meeting with businessmen from Barcelona is of particular interest,” says Intcen.

In the Who's Who reconstruction, the document mentions Zakharchenko's “close connection” with Alexander Borodai, his predecessor as secessionist leader in Donetsk. “Borodai is most likely a high-ranking FSB official in charge of coordinating separatist movements,” says the European report, which also places him in Transdiester in the 1990s “during the secession conflict” and which claims to have carried out these actions have “unclear anti-separatist tasks” in Chechnya, where Russia destroyed the secession movement through two wars.

Borodai, in turn, is associated with the philosopher Alexander Dugin – father of Eurasianism – and with Vladislav Surkov, one of the fathers of Putinism, according to the EU Intcen report, which also documents the relationship with a photo of the three men. In addition to the Kremlin strategist, Surkov was responsible for the government of South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Donbas, he notes. “Surkov and Borodai will be assigned special political projects, including separatism and front groups,” the report said. Surkov left the Kremlin in 2020, in 2022, after the war in Ukraine and the failure of the offensive launched by the Kremlin, he was placed under house arrest for embezzling funds for the Donbas and now has an unclear position.

Russia, destabilizing but opportunistic

A few weeks ago, the European Parliament again called for an investigation into the Catalan independence movement's ties to Russia and the Kremlin's interference in the process, in a resolution spurred by the case of a Latvian MEP suspected of working in Moscow. , and which also asks, at the initiative of the European People's Party and the Liberal group to which Ciudadanos belongs, to investigate Carles Puigdemont, president of the Generalitat during the trial, who fled Spain in 2017 and has been an MEP since 2019.

During this meeting of the Eurochamber in Strasbourg, the vice-president of the Community Council for European Lifestyle, Margaritis Schinas, referred to “reports” of “regular contacts and organized visits between Russian officials and representatives of a group of Catalan independents”. . Everything as before the European elections in June, crucial for the stability of the EU, and with the shadow of the interference of Russia, which has maintained a strategy of sowing seeds to destabilize the West by dividing political movements through propaganda, disinformation, hacking supports. Information leaks, covert financing of political movements and other measures.

The European intelligence report finds that Russian actions related to geopolitical objectives are “essentially opportunistic.” “Russia is trying to exploit emerging vulnerabilities. “In some cases, we believe that Russia may delay due to lack of capabilities, changes in risk calculations, or other geopolitical objectives, such as “convergence signals” or similar,” the confidential report said.

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