A thorough investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), El Periódico, Bellingcat, IRPI, Il Fatto Quotidiano, and iStories provides details on Russia’s offer of troops and money to Catalonian leaders to help them secede from Spain. In return, Catalonia would become a haven for cryptocurrencies.
The offer was reported in Spanish media in 2020. This investigation is much more detailed. Read it all.
- On a trip to Barcelona in 2017, Nikolai Sadovnikov offered to give the Catalonians $500 billion to aid their attempts to make the region an independent state.
- In return, he asked them to turn Catalonia into a haven for cryptocurrencies.
- A Western intelligence agency described him as “an actor of Russian parallel diplomacy” who accompanied Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on trips around the Middle East.
- After Sadovnikov left Barcelona, text messages show the Catalonians stayed in touch through an intermediary.
- The intermediary kept promising money, sending the Catalonians photographs of a suitcase full of cash and a certificate of deposit worth $500 billion. But reporters could only confirm he ever sent them a single bitcoin.
- Sadovnikov held shares in four companies registered in a government-owned building in Red Square.
During the Cold War, Soviet attempts at influence were obvious and occasionally deteriorated into war. But they were political, urging leftist parties to join the great international movement to socialism/ communism.
With Silovik Vladimir Putin in charge, the Russian government uses silovik methods: corrupt people by buying them, and break countries by encouraging internal division. In the United States we have the NRA and Maria Butina, even John McCain according to Steve Schmidt’s Twitter feed over the past 24 hours, and Paul Manafort through it all.
Cross-posted at Nuclear Diner