Ukrainian ambassador to UK Natalia Galibarenko has accused Alex Salmond of sacrificing his reputation to become “a puppet” on the Kremlin-backed RT television channel.
The chorus of criticism against the former First Minister’s choice of broadcaster for The Alex Salmond Show was joined by the diplomat representing the country, which has suffered under Russian military aggression.
In an interview with the Scotsman, Ms Galibarenko said she intended to raise the issue with Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish Government’s External Affairs Secretary.
“I can only say this is quite unfortunate that such a famous politician, who is also a very important politician for the Scottish people, is becoming some kind of a puppet on Russia Today, which is famous for its fake news,” said Ms Galibarenko.
“I can understand – maybe – that he made it (the show) for financial reasons. Obviously they proposed a lot of money, I can presume. But again I think reputation is something you shouldn’t sacrifice.”
The ambassador said she had spoken to SNP MPs, who did not support Mr Salmond’s decision, adding that some of them were trying to persuade him to take the show off air.
She added: “I think this (Russia Today) is the instrument of Russian propaganda. They are making fake news about Ukraine and about European countries.”
Vladimir Putin has received international condemnation for invading Ukraine and annexing Crimea. Ms Galibarenko was in Edinburgh for the unveiling of a memorial to her compatriots, who perished in Holodomor – the act of genocide committed by Joseph Stalin’s Soviet regime that resulted in millions of deaths in the 1930s.
A spokesperson for Slàinte Media, which produces The Alex Salmond Show, said: “RT UK can speak for itself. All licensed broadcasters in the UK are regulated by Ofcom and cannot, therefore, by definition operate as propaganda channels.
“As far as the Alex Salmond Show is concerned, if Ms Galibarenko has a complaint about its content then we will be delighted to hear from her. That would involve her first watching the programme. It would appear from her reported remarks that she has yet to watch the show.
“That is the normal way of doing things not attempting to bring political pressure to bear on private companies producing programmes for a licensed broadcaster.”