(AGENDAWATCHDOG) – A judge in Barcelona is probing possible links between some of the promoters of Catalonia’s 2017 attempt to declare independence from the rest of Spain with an alleged misinformation campaign and overall effort to destabilize Europe that Spanish investigators link to Russia.
The probe authorized by judge Joaquín Aguirre led on Wednesday to the arrest of 21 suspects on suspicions of corruption and promoting public disorder. Aguirre partly based the probe on police evidence that purported Russian agents allegedly offered to provide military aid to Catalan separatists at the height of their failed secession bid in 2017.
On the recording, one of the detainees mentions an offer by the alleged Russian agents to provide former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont with 10,000 soldiers, apparently to help in a theoretical armed conflict with Spanish authorities. The court document provided no indication that the offer was ever considered by Puigdemont, nor does it provide additional evidence that the offer was even genuine, or feasible.
The Catalan separatist movement has always proclaimed non-violent beliefs, even though last year there were violent clashes with police after several top leaders were sentenced to prison for their roles in the 2017 breakaway bid.