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Spain. Government approves partial pardon of Catalan leaders for independence in prisons, and Sanchez speaks of “a new era of dialogue” – News

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“The Council of Ministers has reached an agreement to pardon nine” independence activists in prison, Pedro Sánchez said in an official statement after a nearly four-hour meeting at which the decision was made.

“The government took this decision because it is the best for Catalonia and the best for Spain,” the Spanish Prime Minister said in a short broadcast, saying he wants to open up a “new era of dialogue” and end the “confrontation”. recognition of “considerations of public benefit” for pardon, in order to “restore coexistence and harmony in Catalan and Spanish societies.”

The nine imprisoned Catalan politicians are to be released from prison today, according to sources in the Spanish Supreme Court, who indicated that the institution will not wait for the decision to be published on Wednesday in the Official Gazette before proceeding with the trial.

In October 2019, nine separatists were sentenced to between 9 and 13 years in prison for their part in a failed attempt to declare Catalonia’s independence from Spain.

The secession attempt in 2017 was one of the worst political crises since the end of the dictatorship of Francisco Franco in 1975 and still affects national politics today.

Despite the ban on Spanish justice, the Catalan government, chaired by independent activist Carles Puigdemont, organized a referendum on self-determination on October 1, 2017. The consultations were marked by scenes of police violence, with the central government trying to suppress what he saw as an illegal secession attempt.

On the 27th of the same month, the Parliament of Catalonia unilaterally declared independence. In response, the conservative Spanish government overthrew the Catalan executive branch and placed the region under its wing.

Pursued by justice, the separatist leaders fled Spain like Puigdemont, or were arrested like the then Catalan vice-president and leader of the Left Republican Party of Catalonia (ERC), Oriol Junqueras.

  • Oriol Junqueras (13 years in prison) – former vice president of the executive branch of Catalonia
  • Carme Forcadell (11 years in prison) – former President of the Regional Parliament of Catalonia
  • Raul Romeva, Jordi Turull and Dolors Bassa (12 years in prison) – Former members of the regional government of Catalonia
  • Joaquim Forn and Josep Rull (10 years in prison) – Regional Advisers
  • Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixar (9 years in prison) – leaders of the associations for independence

All of them are now leaving prison, but the pardon is only partial: they will still not be able to hold public office, and the pardon can be canceled if there is a new attempt to achieve independence or if the crime is committed within a certain period of time. …

“These pardons do not depend on whether the recipients abandon their ideas, and we do not expect them,” Sanchez said, justifying this by the fact that prison sentences were handed down “not for their ideas, but for violating the laws of our democracy.” …

A group of independence movement activists who have not yet been tried has not been pardoned either. This group includes Puigdemont, who is based in Belgium and was elected a member of the European Parliament.

The Council of Europe, the main human rights body on the “old continent”, upheld the pardon in a resolution adopted by its assembly late Monday night.

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But the non-binding recommendation also criticized Spain for restricting the freedom of expression of Catalan politicians.

In response, Spain’s foreign ministry said the separatists had been convicted by independent courts for breaking the law, not just for expressing their desire for independence.

What’s at stake in the future?

At the Teatro Liceo in Barcelona on Monday, Sanchez tried to justify the pardon, facing criticism from both the right and independence supporters.

“The main reason for the pardons is their usefulness for coexistence,” the socialist said, noting that he intends to “open the door to reconciliation” in Catalonia, a region whose 7.7 million inhabitants remain deeply divided over independence.

Sanchez stressed that he is aware that part of the Catalan and Spanish society opposes the pardon, but said that “the future should be more important than the past” and that this measure “will give everyone the opportunity to start all over again and do something. Best”.

“If there is time for unification, this is it,” said the prime minister, who also defended “dialogue” from “confrontation” as the latter “did not contribute to the resolution of any conflict.”

These pardons, however, are considered insufficient by the independent in power in Catalonia, which require an amnesty, that is, a step that would imply a complete pardon of the crimes committed and the holding of a referendum on self-determination – opportunities rejected by Madrid.

“A pardon is not a solution to a common problem,” stressed the President of Catalonia, Pere Aragones.

The Spanish right, who rallied thousands in Madrid on June 13 to oppose the pardon, accused Sanchez of trying to stay in power because his minority government needs support from congressional independence activists.

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The current left-wing executive minority, the coalition between the Socialist Party (PSOE) and the Unidas Podemos (far left), has managed to stay in power, namely with the help of the Catalan independence parties, as well as the separatist or nationalist formations of the Basque Country.

Pardon is viewed primarily by the right as a currency of exchange that guarantees the continuation of this support network.

The decision of the Council of Ministers does not definitively resolve this issue, as several proponents of Spanish law and others have already announced that they will appeal to the Supreme Court.

Moreover, the pardon measure is rejected by 53% of Spaniards, according to a recent poll, which, by contrast, showed that 68% of Catalans approve of it.

With this decision, the Sanchez government intends to turn the page and help resolve the protracted crisis in Catalonia.

In a context where Spain registers a decrease in COVID-19 cases as vaccination progresses, and with a general election in two years’ time, the Sanchez government intends to renew its dialogue with the Catalan executive. These negotiations were suspended in February 2020 due to the pandemic.

The positions of both sides remain at antipodes. More moderate than his two predecessors, the new president of Catalonia, Pere Aragones of the ERC, is pushing for a referendum on self-determination, this time agreed with Madrid, similar to Scotland’s 2014.

This opportunity was categorically rejected by the central government, open to vote in Catalonia, but only to decide on greater autonomy for the region. Catalonia already has broad powers in the areas of health, education and safety.

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Vladimir Putin has delayed the invasion of Ukraine at least three times.

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Putin has repeatedly consulted with Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about the invasion, Europa Press told Ukraine’s chief intelligence director Vadim Skibitsky.

According to Skibitsky, it was the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), which is responsible for counterintelligence and espionage work, that put pressure on Gerasimov and other military agencies to agree to launch an offensive. .

However, according to the Ukrainian intelligence services, the FSB considered that by the end of February sufficient preparations had already been made to guarantee the success of the Russian Armed Forces in a lightning invasion.

However, according to Kyiv, the Russian General Staff provided the Russian troops with supplies and ammunition for only three days, hoping that the offensive would be swift and immediately successful.

The head of Ukrainian intelligence also emphasized the cooperation of local residents, who always provided the Ukrainian authorities with up-to-date information about the Russian army, such as the number of soldiers or the exact location of troops.

The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine caused at least 6.5 million internally displaced persons and more than 7.8 million refugees to European countries, which is why the UN classifies this migration crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945). gg.). ).

At the moment, 17.7 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and housing.

The UN has presented as confirmed 6,755 civilian deaths and 10,607 wounded since the beginning of the war, stressing that these figures are much lower than the real ones.

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Life sentence for former Swedish official for spying for Russia

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A Stockholm court on Monday sentenced a former Swedish intelligence officer to life in prison for spying for Russia, and his brother to at least 12 years in prison. In what is considered one of the most serious cases in Swedish counterintelligence history, much of the trial took place behind closed doors in the name of national security.

According to the prosecution, it was Russian military intelligence, the GRU, who took advantage of the information provided by the two brothers between 2011 and their arrest at the end of 2021.

Peyman Kia, 42, has held many senior positions in the Swedish security apparatus, including the army and his country’s intelligence services (Säpo). His younger brother, Payam, 35, is accused of “participating in the planning” of the plot and of “managing contacts with Russia and the GRU, including passing on information and receiving financial rewards.”

Both men deny the charges, and their lawyers have demanded an acquittal on charges of “aggravated espionage,” according to the Swedish news agency TT.

The trial coincides with another case of alleged Russian espionage, with the arrest of the Russian-born couple in late November in a suburb of Stockholm by a police team arriving at dawn in a Blackhawk helicopter.

Research website Bellingcat identified them as Sergei Skvortsov and Elena Kulkova. The couple allegedly acted as sleeper agents for Moscow, having moved to Sweden in the late 1990s.

According to Swedish press reports, the couple ran companies specializing in the import and export of electronic components and industrial technology.

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The man was again detained at the end of November for “illegal intelligence activities.” His partner, suspected of being an accomplice, has been released but remains under investigation.

According to Swedish authorities, the arrests are not related to the trial of the Kia brothers.

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Ukraine admitted that Russia may announce a general mobilization

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“They can strengthen their positions. We understand that this can happen. At the same time, we do not rule out that they will announce a general mobilization,” Danilov said in an interview with the Ukrainska Pravda online publication.

Danilov believed that this mobilization would also be convened “to exterminate as many as possible” of Russian citizens, so that “they would no longer have any problems on their territory.”

In this sense, Danilov also reminded that Russia has not given up on securing control over Kyiv or the idea of ​​the complete “destruction” of Ukraine. “We have to be ready for anything,” he said.

“I want everyone to understand that [os russos] they have not given up on the idea of ​​destroying our nation. If they don’t have Kyiv in their hands, they won’t have anything in their hands, we must understand this,” continued Danilov, who also did not rule out that a new Russian offensive would come from “Belarus and other territories.” .

As such, Danilov praised the decision of many of its residents who chose to stay in the Ukrainian capital when the war broke out in order to defend the city.

“They expected that there would be panic, that people would run, that there would be nothing to protect Kyiv,” he added, referring to President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine caused at least 6.5 million internally displaced persons and more than 7.8 million refugees to European countries, which is why the UN classifies this migration crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945). gg.). ).

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At the moment, 17.7 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and housing.

The Russian invasion, justified by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the need to “denazify” and demilitarize Ukraine for Russia’s security, was condemned by the international community at large, which responded by sending weapons to Ukraine and imposing political and economic sanctions on Russia.

The UN has presented as confirmed 6,755 civilian deaths and 10,607 wounded since the beginning of the war, stressing that these figures are much lower than the real ones.

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