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The Russians have turned up again in the so-called Volhov case, which is investigating a number of Catalan pro-independence business people and activists. After the uproar caused by the statements contained in a first report by the Civil Guard asserting that Russia had offered Carles Puigdemont 10,000 soldiers in the midst of the 2017 independence process, the investigation of the case is continuing on this path and is now searching for links with people in Puigdemont's circle. The judge of the Barcelona court, Joaquín Aguirre, has asked that this route be investigated, although the public prosecutors have opposed it.

A new report prepared by the Civil Guard, like that of October last year which alerted to the offer of 10,000 Russian soldiers, and to which the newspaper El Periódico has had access, is investigating the links between the director of Puigdemont's office, Josep Lluís Alay, and a Russian businessman living in Catalonia, Alexander Dmitrenko, whom the Spanish judiciary links to the Russian intelligence services, which allegedly caused him to be denied Spanish nationality.

Russian businessman

The Civil Guard report states that this businessman had "integrated into Puigdemont's circle". To underscore the suspicions, it explains that Dmitrenko had business with another Russian businessman, Artem Lukoyaniuv, whom they describe as the adopted son of a former adviser to Vladimir Putin, named Vladislav Surkov, and known by the alias of The Cardinal.

The report includes, among the elements of the investigation, messages extracted from Alay's mobile phone, when he was arrested last October in a series of dramatic police raids made as part of this case. The messages are addressed to Puigdemont and explain that Dmitrenko was chosen as ambassador for the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, affirming that he is a contact in Russia able to opens “many thing in Moscow”.

Suspicions due to "context"

In one of the messages between Dmitrenko and Alay there is a reference to a sum of $295,000 that the Russian received as collateral for a business, and about which he allegedly wrote: "Congratulations to all of us. First big step taken." Dmitrenko is said to have sent a payment receipt linked with a Russian company and a Hong Kong company. The Civil Guard admits that it has no further information about this business matter, but nevertheless does not hesitate to say that due to the "context of the messages" there could be "participation from Puigdemont's circle".

In fact, despite the lack of hard evidence which the Civil Guard admit, judge Aguirre compares this sale with an operation involving a Russian company with one linked to the Italian Northern League politician Matteo Salvini, which was emploed in the illegal financing of the Italian party.

Gonzalo Boye

ElNacional.com has learned that the report also includes messages exchanged with Puigdemont's lawyer Gonzalo Boye, which are beng investigated for a possible link with Dmitrenko and other Russian businessmen whom he allegedly met in Moscow and Geneva. Mentioned in those messages is the name of a Russian journalist, Yevgeny Primakov, who ran a Russian television programme that interviewed Puigdemont in 2019. The report notes it as suspicious that Primakov was placed by Putin at the head of the federal agency RosSotrudnichestvo.

The new differences between the judge and the prosecutors in the investigation of this alleged plot are in addition to other differences that have emerged in other parts of the case. The prosecutors already expressed their doubts during the investigation about the phone taps and monitoring of some of those under investigation, and today it became known that they have rejected the sending of the part of the case linking some of those accused to the Democratic Tsunami pro-independence protest platform to the higher National Audience court.

 

In the main image, the director of the office of former president of Carles Puigdemont, Josep Alay