The use of heavy-handed tactics by police to disrupt the Catalan referendum on October 1 was more than simply an internal Spanish or European matter. It sent a powerful and damaging message to those living in countries and territories across the former Soviet Union that are experiencing high levels of sectional or interethnic tension.
As a senior advisor for International Alert, a non-governmental organization dedicated to peacebuilding, I work extensively with partners in the post-Soviet region. Over the past few weeks, I have seen how these partners, former colleagues and friends have been questioning the efficacy of the “European democratic values” that they have been invoking in their work over the past decades.
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Larissa Sotieva is a Senior Adviser for Eurasia at the peacebuilding organization International Alert.