This handout picture released on October 3, 2017 by the Spanish Royal House (Casa Real) shows Spain's King Felipe VI addressing the nation on October 3, 2017 in Madrid, as the country grapples with its biggest political crisis in decades over an independence drive in Catalonia.(Photos by AFP)
Spain's King Felipe VI has accused Catalan leaders of risking the county’s security and stability with their independence referendum.
"With their irresponsible conduct they could put at risk the economic and social stability of Catalonia and all of Spain,” said Felipe in a televised address on Tuesday.
He made the remarks after hundreds of thousands of Catalans protested the violence by police against voters during a banned referendum on independence held earlier in the week.
"They have placed themselves totally outside the law and democracy...It is the responsibility of the legitimate state powers to ensure constitutional order," he added.
He added that the Spanish crown was powerfully committed to the Spanish constitution and to democracy, while underlining his commitment as king "to the unity and permanence of Spain."
‘Independence to be declared soon’
During an interview with the BBC, Catalonia’s secessionist leader Carles Puigdemont announced that the region will declare independence "in a matter of days."
He added that the regional government will “act at the end of this week or the beginning of next," towards issuing a declaration.
He also said that it would be "an error which changes everything" for the central government to attempt to intervene and take control of the region.
Russia worried about Spain
Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced his worries over the situation in Spain while speaking at a ceremony in Kremlin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting of the presidential council for physical culture and sports on the preparation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup at the Kremlin in Moscow on October 3, 2017. 
"Now everybody has been discussing the Catalonia independence referendum situation. I will not conceal, we are really worried about Spain,” he said.
“But definitely it is an internal affair of the Kingdom of Spain. “We hope they will be able to overcome the crisis," he added.
More than 90 percent of Catalan voters said ‘Yes’ to separation from the mainland in a plebiscite banned by the central government.
The Sunday vote, however, turned ugly as Spanish riot police moved in on polling stations to stop people from casting their ballots. Security forces used batons and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds of voters.
Young people making noise by banging pots during a general strike in Catalonia called by Catalan unions in Barcelona, on October 3, 2017. 
Over 840 people were wounded in the violent clashes between riot police and voters in one of Spain’s worst crises in decades.
Before the vote, Spain’s military police also raided the Catalan government offices on September 20, during which at least 14 junior officials and associates were arrested and almost 10 million ballot papers were seized.
Catalonia, one of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions, held a symbolic referendum back in November 2014, during which more than 80 percent of participants voted for independence, according to Catalan officials.

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