04:02 GMT +321 May 2019
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    President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of France Emmanuel Macron, second, left, during Russia-France Business Dialogue held as part of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Left: President of the Movement of the Enterprises of France (MEDEF) Pierre Gattaz.

    Putin Backs Spanish Integrity Amid Russian Meddling Claims in Catalonia

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    St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2018 (64)
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    MADRID (Sputnik) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected as "nonsense" accusations of his government’s role in last year’s Catalan independence bid as he spoke in support of Spanish integrity at the meeting with journalists on Friday.

    "We have good and fruitful relations with Spain that we want to maintain, and we also want the situation in Spain to normalize and for Spain to conserve its territorial integrity," the President said.

    Putin on Friday met with a dozen of the world’s major news agencies for a closed-door event on the sidelines of the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF 2018). The president stressed that people of Catalonia had a right to self-determination, "but at the same time we believe in respecting and conserving the sovereignty of states," he said.

    READ MORE: German Prosecutors Seek Catalan Ex-Leader Puigdemont's Extradition to Spain

    A Spanish intelligence body accused "Russian institutions" this week of influence attempts in Catalonia, a wealthy northeastern region which voted in a referendum last October to secede from Spain. Moscow repeatedly denied any such claims, noting there was no evidence to back up those allegations.

    Madrid called the poll illegal and suspended Catalan autonomy, jailing a few pro-independence politicians and forcing the then Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to leave the country.

    Topic:
    St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2018 (64)

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    Tags:
    SPIEF-2018, Vladimir Putin, Catalonia, Spain, Russia