Russian news agency Sputnik expelled from Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce

A Russian news outlet has slammed the 'politically motivated' decision to expel them from the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce.

The interior of the Edinburgh office of Sputnik. Picture: Contributed
The interior of the Edinburgh office of Sputnik. Picture: Contributed

Sputnik, the multi-media arm of Rossiya Segodnya, known as Russia Today, was recently admitted as a member of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce.

In the wake of the poisoning of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, calls had been made for the chamber to reconsider any links to the “propaganda arm” of Russia.

Edinburgh Council voted to ask the Chamber to “terminate its agreement with Sputnik forthwith” at last week’s full council meeting following a motion raised by councillor John McLellan at Edinburgh City Council.

The Chamber allowed Sputnik to become a member earlier this year, a move that has since been criticised by representatives from every political party in Holyrood.

A Sputnik UK spokesperson said it is a “discreditable moment” for the Chamber.

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They added: “As a result of an ongoing media and political campaign against Sputnik UK we are disappointed with the decision that has been made by the Chamber of Commerce to end our membership agreement.

“We disagree with the decision which we believe violates the principles of an independent and non-political body that the Chamber of Commerce claims to be.

“This is a discreditable moment in the Chambers 230 year history and is a clear signal for other businesses in Edinburgh that media and political pressure can lead to expulsion from this business institution.

“As the only international news agency with a main media-hub based in Edinburgh, we generate job opportunities for aspiring media professionals in Scotland.

“We hope that the political climate improves and in future opportunities that we provide will be more welcomed by the media and Scottish political establishment.”

Sputnik UK has been operating out of the Exchange Tower in Edinburgh’s West End for two years.

Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton filed a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling for an industry-wide review of broadcast licences granted to state owned news networks.

Former city council chief Donald Anderson, had called for Sputnik’s association with the body be revoked, saying it was a “propaganda machine for the Russian state”.

He added: “The Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce are an organisation set up to promote our society and our democracy, so it is really disappointing to see them give membership to an organisation which is effectively a propaganda machine for the Russian state.”