An investigator declares that Puigdemont met with a former Russian diplomat in the middle of the 'procés'

A former Convergència (CDC) charge declared this Wednesday before the judge that the former president of the Generalitat Carles Puigdemont met twice with a former Russian diplomat, at the Palau de la Generalitat, in October 2017, days before the failed Declaration Unilateral Independence (DUI). Víctor Terradellas, former head of international relations for the nationalist formation, has also confirmed that this person “from the Russian government environment” offered military and economic aid. In a three-hour statement as investigated by the alleged Russian plot of the processTerradellas has disassociated Puigdemont from the genesis of these meetings, has denied that he was commissioned to keep contact with the Russians alive and has stated that the former president, who fled to Belgium from Spanish justice, did not give any credibility to the offer.

Terradellas is being formally investigated for the alleged diversion of public funds from the Barcelona Provincial Council through two entities (Catmon and Igman) that he administered. Within the framework of that instruction, the Barcelona judge found an audio file in which this former CDC official explained to relevant people of the process that the Russians had offered “10,000 soldiers” to a hypothetical independent Catalonia. That file was the origin of the voloh casefor which the judge investigates the alleged Russian interference in the independence process, and for which Terradellas has been questioned.

A joint effort by various international media has uncovered this week the details of two meetings that were held on October 24 and 26, 2017 at the Casa dels Canonges, the official residence of the President of the Generalitat. Puigdemont and Terradellas attended both meetings. Present at the first were Sergey Motin – a deceased Russian citizen who had received treatment at a Barcelona clinic – and Jordi Sardà, implicated in a Gas Natural fraud. The second visit, a day before the DUI, was joined by Nikolai Sadovnikov, a former Russian diplomat and businessman who, according to the investigative work of these media, is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to Terradellas, one of the meetings was also attended by the former leader of Junts Elsa Artadi, who recently resigned as a candidate for mayor of Barcelona for personal reasons.

The alleged Russian emissaries told Puigdemont that, if Catalonia became an independent state, they would help finance it with a cryptocurrency system and the contribution of 10,000 soldiers. That is what Terradellas transferred in the 2017 audios and what he has confirmed this Wednesday before the judge. According to the investigator, Puigdemont was “stunned” at what he was hearing and did not give any credibility to the offer.

Terradellas, who maintains an internal struggle in Junts per Catalunya – political heir of Convergència – to become a candidate for mayor of Reus (Tarragona) has assumed full responsibility in the search for Russian contacts. That interest in Russia was due to his previous work as head of international relations for the party. He did everything on his own, without anyone commissioning him, nor did Puigdemont – with whom he had a very close relationship – commission him for any work. In 2017, in fact, Terradellas did not hold any public office.

The investigator has acknowledged that, in 2018 -once the frustration over the failed 1-O referendum had been overcome- he traveled to Moscow and met again with the alleged man close to the Kremlin, Sadovnikov. Terradellas has remarked that, once again, he did it on his own initiative and for personal reasons, never commissioned by Puigdemont. The contacts ended once he was arrested for the alleged diversion of funds, which this Wednesday he also categorically denied: the subsidies, he has said, in no case served to divert funds to either Convergència or the sovereignist process.

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