Former Catalonian leader Carles Puigdemont considered the possibility of fleeing to Russia prior to his detention in Germany; however, he ultimately chose to attempt to return to Belgium, where the authorities did not extradite the politician back to Spain.
According to sources of the newspaper El Mundo, Puigdemont considered two variations for further movement during his time in Finland at the end of March. In particular, he considered fleeing to St. Petersburg, which is not far from Helsinki. However, in the end, the Catalan politician decided to return to Belgium.
Puigdemont traveled from Finland to Sweden using a Finnish driver; in total, he traveled approximately 1,700 km. El Mundo noted that it would have been faster to get to Stockholm by ferry, but the former Catalonian leader took into account the fact that his passport may have been checked at the ferry.
Later on, Puigdemont decided to return to Belgium via Denmark and Germany on a Renault Espace minibus; this minibus was known to the police, since the Catalan politician had previously traveled in the car. After crossing the Danish-German border, a guard patrol stopped the Renault. Puigdemont was ordered to go to the nearest gas station, where he was officially arrested.
On April 5, the Puigdemont case was heard by the court in Schleswig-Holstein. The Court decided to permit the Catalan politician to be released on bail, but forbid him from leaving German territory. The court permitted his extradition to Spain, but only on the condition that he be brought back not for inciting sedition, but for squandering budgetary funds.
Puigdemont was the key organizer of the referendum on the independence of Catalonia held on October 1, 2017. Of the Catalans who voted in the referendum, which had a turnout of 43% of the population, 90% supported secession from Spain. The Spanish authorities declared the referendum in Catalonia to be illegal. Direct rule by Madrid was then introduced in the region, as a result of which Puigdemont and some of the regional government ministers fled abroad.