The European Union’s counter-propaganda unit has detected an upsurge in pro-Kremlin disinformation and false claims about the political crisis in Catalonia. In the run-up to and aftermath of the bitterly contested Catalan independence referendum, EU officials have seen an increase in false information published in Russian and Spanish. “World powers prepare for war in Europe,” proclaimed the headline of the Russian-language site Polit Ekspert on the day of the Catalan parliament’s declaration of independence. A Moldovan politician, Bogdan Ţîrdea, claimed in a Facebook post: “EU officials supported the violence in Catalonia.” An article for the Kremlin-backed news agency Sputnik about a minor secessionist appeal on the Balearic Islands was given the headline “Independence movements: a contagious timebomb in a state that does not listen”. Officials working at the East Stratcom taskforce in Brussels say they have seen an increase in disinformation linked to the Catalan referendum, in line with the explosion of media interest in the story. The unit started work in September 2015 as part of an attempt to debunk fake news and improve understanding of EU policies in eastern Europe. The findings emerged after Spain’s foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis, said intelligence suggested Russian hackers were targeting the European… Read full this story
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