THE leaders of Scotland’s main opposition parties have written a joint letter to the country’s Ukrainian community distancing themselves from Alex Salmond’s controversial comments paying tribute to Vladimir Putin.
Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson wrote that in praising Putin, the First Minister did not speak for Scotland.
The letter, to the Scottish chair of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, Michael Ostapko, states: “We write jointly to express our support with the people of Ukraine as they face the aggressive actions of Russia at this time, and to disassociate ourselves with comments by First Minister Alex Salmond expressing his admiration of “some aspects” of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s leadership.”
Mr Salmond declared in an interview with former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell for this month’s GQ magazine that Mr Putin had “restored a substantial part of Russian pride and that must be a good thing”.
But the leaders’ joint letter adds: “We wish to convey to Scotland’s Ukrainian community that in praising Mr Putin at this time, the First Minister did not speak for us.
“We believe that his comments at this most difficult of times for Ukraine amounted to a grave misjudgement which ill-serves Scotland’s well-founded international reputation as a nation which has always stood up for human rights and the rule of law.”
Mr Ostapko hit out the comments of the First Minister earlier this week and demanded a public apology, but Mr Salmond stood by his comments yesterday insisting they were “balanced and sensible.”