No, not The Onion…
In what is perhaps the least surprising tactic from the Spanish establishment, a government-backed research institute in Madrid has stated that Spain’s struggle to quash separatism in its Catalonia region was disrupted by Russian hackers agitating for a break-up, in a hallmark propaganda effort to fracture Europe.
As Bloomberg reports, the unidentified Russians spread both true and false messages on Facebook and Twitter during the illegal separatist referendum on Oct. 1, according to Mira Milosevich, a senior analyst at the Elcano Royal Institute.
The “dezinformatsiya” campaign deployed trolls, bots and fake accounts, and was backed by intense coverage from Russia’s state-supported television, she said.
“Russia has a nationalist agenda, and it supports nationalist, populist movements in Europe because that serves to divide Europe,” Milosevich said Wednesday in an interview.
The researcher had just published an article building on a Sept. 25 El Pais newspaper report that linked fake news on Catalonia with allegations of Russian influence in the Brexit campaign.
Elcano is part-funded by the Spanish government and its board’s honorary chairman is King Felipe VI.
Milosevich further claims that the most significant comments spread on Twitter and Facebook came from WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange and government-secrets leaker Edward Snowden, Milosevich said, particularly that the “banana republic” of Spain used violence to suffocate a democratic vote.
For his Twitter profile photo, Assange is using a shot of Spanish riot police, clad in black protective gear, with one of them swinging his baton.
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