Catalonia: Here the Russians, there Assange

Saturday, 30 September, 2017

One of the scariest things during the Catalan referendum campaign has been the instrumentalization by the government in Madrid of El País, Spain’s most widely-circulated daily and considered to be country’s paper of record. During the past week, El País has gone to great lengths to find “reds under the beds” in Barcelona and its articles on alleged Russian involvement in the referendum have been so transparently planted that one has to laugh out loud at their amateurishness. Catalan separatism is not indebted to Moscow in any way and its integrity is as far from Putinism as Montserrat is from Vladivostok. The crux of the matter is cultural:

“Many Catalans do not ‘feel’ Spanish. They have spent the years since the death of Franco recreating their country, taking what power they can and using it to consolidate the idea of Catalonia as a place as worthy to be a state as any other European country.” Colm Tóibín, The Guardian

Still, those who long for tales of Russian manipulation of campaigns will take a crumb of comfort from the intervention of Julian Assange in the referendum. From his self-imposed exile in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Assange tweeted:

“What is happening in Catalonia in the most significant Western conflict between people and state since the fall of the Berlin wall — but its methods are 2017, from VPNs, proxies, mirrors and encrypted chat to internet surveillance and censorship, bot propaganda and body armor.”

Like Edward Snowden, Julian Assange is a Russian tool and a nasty piece of work but his ability to influence events abroad or do harm at home is limited. Both are Twitter bores now and, as Ned Price, points out. “The only thing more insufferable than @JulianAssange is @JulianAssange with 280 characters.”

Robots voting


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