UKRAINIAN expatriates in Scotland have demanded a “public apology” from Alex Salmond over his controversial comments paying tribute to Vladimir Putin.
A strongly worded letter to the First Minister says his comments have provoked “hurt, disgust, betrayal and astonishment”.
Mr Salmond told GQ magazine that he admired “certain aspects” of President Putin, including how he had restored part of Russian pride, although he said he did not approve of a range of actions.
But Michael Ostapko, chairman of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, Scotland, wrote: “We fail to see how you can be so effusive in admiration towards this despotic and criminally run nation whose own citizens are cowed into submission (not admiration) by arrests, assassination and rabid nationalism. In this year of your own ‘independence’ aspiration, one can only fear for what kind of nation you wish to create.”
Mr Ostapko said there were four generations of Ukrainians in Scotland and the Association’s membership runs into thousands north of the Border. “I therefore ask that at the very least you make an unequivocal public apology to the Ukrainian community and perhaps qualify what you might have meant by your crass words,” he added.
A spokesman for the First Minister said the Scottish government opposes the Russian government’s stance on “human rights, homosexuality and indeed, the illegal annexation of Crimea”.
He added: “Since this interview was conducted, the Scottish Government has made our position abundantly clear on the illegal annexation, including the decision to withdraw the invitation to the Russian Consul General to the annual Scottish Consular Corps dinner.”
Education secretary Mike Russell met the new Russian consul last month and condemned Russia’s actions on human rights and homosexuality. The spokesman added: “We strongly condemn human rights abuses wherever they take place.”