RUSSIAN hackers have been accused of interfering in the Catalunya independence referendum as part of a plan to undermine the EU.

It comes after Madrid has complained to Brussels about alleged meddling by hackers from Russia and Venezuela.

Spanish officials claim the hackers have been spreading misinformation and ‘fake news’ across social media in a bid to further destabilise Spain and the EU.

Spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo said he would raise the issue at an EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting today.

He said: “This is a serious issue, where democracy must confront the challenges of new technology.

“We believe that Europe has to take this issue very seriously.

“It cannot be that foreign forces, outsiders, whom we don’t know who they are, want to change the constitutional order.”

Defence minister for Spain Maria Dolores de Cospedal added: “Many messages and operations that were seen via social networks come from Russian territory.

“And I use the correct expression: from Russian territory. That’s not to say necessarily that we have determined that it is the Russian government.

“As such we must act with extreme caution. We have to be clear on the origins.

“They are partly from Russian territory, partly from elsewhere, also outside the EU. We are determining this currently.”

A rift between secessionists and unionists have widened in Catalunya since Madrid imposed direct rule over the region last month.

Prime minister Mariano Rajoy has urged residents to vote in the snap regional elections on December 21 to ‘restore normality’.

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