Russian dissident Ekaterina Schulmann to visit Scottish Parliament after Alexei Navalny death

Political scientist will give MSPs a presentation on the state of the political opposition of Russia following the death of Alexei Navalny

A prominent Russian dissident is to officially visit the Scottish Parliament today.

Ekaterina Schulmann, who has been labelled a foreign agent by the Kremlin, is set to give a presentation to MSPs on the state of the political opposition of Russia.

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This comes just days after the funeral of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, which saw thousands of Russians queuing up outside a Moscow church to pay their respects.

Political scientist Ekaterina Schulmann. Image: Dmitry Nosachev.Political scientist Ekaterina Schulmann. Image: Dmitry Nosachev.
Political scientist Ekaterina Schulmann. Image: Dmitry Nosachev.

Ms Schulmann is a political scientist who specialises in modern authoritarian regimes, with an emphasis on Russia. As well as being a scholar at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center in Berlin, she is an associate fellow of Chatham House and has 1.2 million subscribers to her YouTube channel where she commentates on Russian affairs.

She teaches political science at Maqsut Narikbayev University in Kazakhstan, and previously taught at Moscow School of Social and Economic Science and the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.

Ms Schulmann will be hosted at Holyrood by Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, who has been banned from Russia by Vladimir Putin.

Speaking ahead of her visit on Wednesday, Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “She represents the many brave men and women of Russia, both at home and overseas, who stand in defiance of Putin, who do not recognise his legitimacy and in whose name he does not act.”

Mr Cole-Hamilton is also using her visit as an opportunity to put pressure on both the UK and Scottish governments to do more in opposition to the Russian regime.

He said the UK government must widen sanctions against those on the ‘Navalny list’, which he described as a “group of Russian human rights abusers, kleptocrats and corruptioners who were involved in the poisoning and imprisonment of Alexei Navalny”.

The Scottish Lib Dems leader said the Scottish Government needed to be more transparent on which Russian oligarchs own land in Scotland.

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Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “As we remember the life and murder of a great man, Alexei Navalny, we must reflect on the ways that we, in Scotland, can stand up against Putin’s regime. For years the SNP’s naivety about Russian influence has run rampant.

“Disgraced former first minister Alex Salmond has helped legitimise Putin by hosting a chat show on his propaganda channel and refusing to address the jailing of Navalny. As it stands, the opaque land ownership system in Scotland also allows oligarchs to disguise their vast fortunes.

“We may already be in the early days of a new cold war. We must do everything in our power to support free-thinking Russians and close off Putin’s interests and influence in Scotland.”

SNP MP Stewart McDonald has defended his party’s record when it comes to Russia, saying Ms Schulmann’s visit will give a better understanding of the Kremlin’s influence abroad.

He said: “Whilst we have done much to sanction Putin’s interests, there is always much more that can be done, particularly in Scotland when it comes to hostile disinformation and Scottish Limited Partnerships.

“No politician in Scotland has been a more vocal critic of the Putin regime, or indeed Mr Salmond’s TV show – something he should never live down – than I, so rather than seek to politicise Ms Schulmann’s visit, Mr Cole-Hamilton would do well to put this issue above electioneering and be part of a cross-political consensus that our open society must be defended from authoritarian influence, whether that’s from Russia or from China.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said it is committed to land reform and improving transparency of who owns and controls land.

They added: “The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 introduced the Register of Persons Holding a Controlled Interest in Land (RCI).

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“The intention of the RCI is to ensure there can no longer be categories of land owner or tenant where, intentionally or otherwise, control of decision-making is obscured.

“As well as the RCI, we fully supported UK-wide emergency legislation in the UK Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act, introduced following the invasion of Ukraine, to improve transparency of overseas entities who own land in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK through the Register of Overseas Entities (ROE).”



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