'I don't work for Russia Today', says RT presenter and Alba candidate Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh

A leading Alba candidate and former SNP MP has claimed she does not “work for Russia” despite producing and co-presenting The Alex Salmond Show on RT.

Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, who is the lead candidate for Alba in Central Scotland, co-owns Slainte Media, which produces the former first minister’s show on the Kremlin-backed broadcaster RT, formerly Russia Today.

Speaking to The Scotsman’s political podcast The Steamie, Ms Ahmed-Sheikh claimed she doesn’t “work for Russia Today” when asked for her opinion of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

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The former SNP MP for Ochil and South Perthshire said she is an “independent woman of independent mind”, but would not comment on whether the Russian state was behind the Salisbury poisoning.

Alex Salmond, leader of the Alba Party, and Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh are seen during a campaign event at The Falkirk Wheel on April 30, 2021 in Falkirk

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She said: “I don’t work for Russia Today.

"I set up a small independent production company to make programmes. I make films with my husband, I make a programme with Alex Salmond. I don’t work for Russia, I work for me.

“The idea that you are asking me questions about Putin just because my programme is on a channel is quite bizarre because on that basis you could ask a lot of people a lot of questions about foreign policy decisions based on where their programme is aired.

"I am an independent woman of independent mind.”

Asked whether her party leader had been naive to have a show on RT given its links to the Kremlin, Ms Ahmed-Sheikh said the question was irrelevant in the context of the Holyrood election.

She said: “There is a place and time for foreign policy, it is not even something that is devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

"I don’t have any views of any interest to anybody about any of these things. I am merely doing my work and highlighting issues on a weekly basis that matter to people with full editorial control.

"The only reason Alex Salmond is being asked is because he works with me, a woman of independent mind and producing this programme.

"Let’s ask the Tories about Russian involvement given that David Cameron was pleading for Putin’s help in the referendum of 2014.

"Let’s see who calls on international pals when that referendum is finally delivered.”

The Holyrood candidate, who was defeated as an SNP MP in the 2017 general election, was also asked whether Mr Salmond was “stitched up” by her former colleagues within the SNP.

She also rejected the use of descriptions by Gordon Jackson QC that Mr Salmond was a “bugger to work for” and “could be inappropriate” during the Alba leader’s criminal trial in which he was acquitted of sexual offence charges.

Ms Ahmed-Sheikh said: “I do object to these random stray comments that are made flippantly about things that were admitted to where nobody actually says what those things are, commentary made, innuendo made.

"I also object to the blacking out of the voices of the seven female defence witnesses who also appeared at that trial and who were also heard by the jury and by all accounts whose accounts were believed by that jury.

"As a lawyer I don’t believe it is my place to question a jury verdict. I don’t think it is anyone else’s place to do that otherwise we are getting ourselves into a very strange position in terms of the rule of law in Scotland.”

Readers can listen to the full interview with Mr Rennie on The Steamie.

The Steamie is available from all of your favourite podcast providers, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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