Andreu Claret, journalist and writer. Editorial Committee El Periódico
September 3, 2021
Carles Puigdemont in a photo archive image / DAVID ZORRAKINO – EUROPA PRESS (EUROPA PRESS)
Before authorizing contacts with the Russian secret services, Carles Puigdemont should have taken into account the experience of his predecessors who tried to seek in Moscow the support denied them by Paris or London. Catalan nationalism has always had this temptation. They have always acted with the core idea that they are not ours, but they are the only ones who can help us. With little fortune, by the way, except in the case of Lluís Companys, who cultivated friendship with the consul of the USSR in Barcelona, Vladimir Antonov-Ovseienko, to ensure that the Soviet ships brought food for the rear and weapons for the front. It was not bad until the consul was called to Moscow to be shot and José Stalin declared the Spanish civil war lost.
Macià’s attempt to get something out of the Russians was tragicomic. He traveled to Moscow in late 1925 to request the support of the Bolsheviks for the armed uprising in Prats de Molló. He went in search of weapons and money and returned empty-handed, after waiting a month to be received in a hotel in Red Square from which he could not leave due to the inclemency of the Moscow winter. He was left with the desire to see Stalin, and only Nicolai Bujárin received him, who would soon suffer the same fate as Antonov-Ovseienko. Macià only made a vague statement in favor of the right to self-determination, despite attending the meeting accompanied by the leader of the PCE. “The separatist is too old and the communist too young,” Bukharin scribbled in a derogatory note.
Not even Jordi Pujol escaped this temptation. Lluís Prenafeta, his henchman, also spent long days in a hotel near the Kremlin, waiting to be received. In this case, it was not to ask for arms, or adherence to an independence that did not fit into Pujol’s plans. It was for something much more serious: obtaining an oil concession for the West. It all ended in a deception of the ‘zuliks’, the rogues that proliferated after the fall of communism. His project to create a lottery in St. Petersburg met the same fate. The same bad luck that Puigdemont’s followers seem to have suffered now.