Catalonia: Ideas can’t be locked up

HERE’S some fake news … pro-independence ministers in a Russian provincial government have spent their first night in a Moscow prison, pending a possible criminal charge of using public funds to incite rebellion and sedition. 

Russia’s president said the decision to jail leaders of Mordovia’s separatist movement was a matter for the country’s independent constitutional court. He said those jailed — elected members of Mordovia’s parliament — were not political prisoners.

Well, that’s only partially fake news, since Mordovia exists and it’s not unusual for Mr Putin’s rivals to be in court, and then in prison. But it’s fake news that’s entirely believable, so believable it would hardly rate as news, because it’s Russia — or it could be China or Iran. That’s what happens there. It is now, though, happening in Spain, a modern European state founded on democratic principles and a member of the EU, an organisation that, by its own rules, can comprise only democracies. The EU Commission has been uncharacteristically tardy in commenting on this contravention.

The history of Catalonia’s problems with Spain is fierce and complex. Politicians in both parts of Ireland, along with those in London and Edinburgh, will understand the emotions, fears and ambitions that have brought this clash close to boiling point. But if Madrid’s political class wanted to ensure the lasting fine health of the Catalonian independence movement, it has undoubtedly succeeded.

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