Russian trolls have launched a campaign of cyber attacks on Nicola Sturgeon after the Scottish First Minister condemned the country over the poisoning of a former spy, it has been claimed.
Last week, the SNP leader gave her backing to Theresa May after the Prime Minister called the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury a “indiscriminate and reckless act against the United Kingdom”.
Sturgeon tweeted that a “firm response” was required and “Russia simply cannot be allowed to launch attacks on our streets with impunity”.
Her backing of the Conservatives leader led to criticism on social media with some Scottish independence supporters accusing her of cosying up to a political rival.
However, the party believe that a number of those sending angry messages on Twitter aren’t actually nationalist supporters but instead trolls acting on behalf of the Kremlin and Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Stephen Gethins, the SNP’s international affairs spokesman at Westminster, told the Sunday Herald: “Having worked in the former Soviet Union, I’m under no pretence as to what Russia is capable of. It’s not something that would surprise me as that is the way they have targeted human rights activists and journalists.
“In terms of human rights activists, journalists and politicians, Russia is one of the most dangerous places to be.
The North East Fife MP spoke out following comments made by SNP MEP Alyn Smith.
Mr Smith believes it is likely the Kremlin was targeting the party’s politicians after Nicola Sturgeon tweeted that “Russia’s action would not be tolerated.”
He said: “I know what Scottish abuse sounds like and some of the abuse I have received lately has been in poor English, in sentences constructed poorly with insults that are used in a way that no Scot would use.
“I’ve voiced concerns before about the conduct of discourse in Scotland, but I’m increasingly alarmed that the worst elements of Scottish discourse are not Scottish at all, but orchestrated from elsewhere.
“I do not want to see the Yes movement played by Putin. Some of the abuse that Nicola has had doesn’t look right. In the last couple of days a lot of the stuff doesn’t ring true.”