Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to reassure Scotland’s European partners that Alex Salmond’s relationship with Kremlin-backed RT does not reflect Scottish Government policy.
The challenge was issued by Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie, who warned that Mr Salmond’s decision to broadcast his chat show on RT risked “reputational damage” to Scotland.
In a letter to Ms Sturgeon, Mr Rennie noted that the Estonian Ambassador Tina Intelmann had described RT as Kremlin-backed propaganda when she had appeared before Holyrood’s Europe committee.
Mr Rennie’s letter said: “Countries, particularly along the Russian border, will be deeply concerned that your predecessor as the First Minister of Scotland is now employed by this Russian television channel. Its very objective is to undermine Western democracies and operate information interference. He is directly attached to an organisation which promotes Putin’s destabilisation agenda and which has been complicit in the cover up of events from human rights breaches to the Russian invasion of Crimea.
“While I recognise he is no longer a member of the Scottish Government, our international partners will recognise his very close association with your administration. He led the Scottish Government for seven years and during a time when Scotland’s international profile was high. Past First Ministers do retain an informal ambassadorial status. His actions now therefore pose a serious risk of reputational damage to Scotland and requires your intervention.
“We cannot afford for any country to misconstrue Mr Salmond’s actions as any sort of reflection of the Scottish Government’s policies. I believe it is therefore incumbent upon your government to immediately engage in diplomatic efforts to reassure our European partners about Mr Salmond’s role, or lack thereof.”
He added: “We cannot afford for this government’s embarrassment of its former leader’s actions to compromise its current international standing. I would be grateful if you would set out what steps you will now take.”