Alex Salmond faces mounting pressure to ditch his chat show on the Kremlin-funded RT network as the former First Minister is branded an ‘international embarrassment’ who is ‘open to the highest bidder’
- The Alba leader has presented The Alex Salmond Show on RT since 2017
- Today, it featured Kremlin propaganda of separatists celebrating the invasion
- Salmond has refused to condemn Russia and is facing calls to step down
Alex Salmond is facing pressure to ditch his morning chat show on the Kremlin-funded network RT.
The former Scottish first minister has continued broadcasting on the state-funded channel throughout the rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
Salmond, who resigned from the SNP and now leads Alba, has hosted his RT show since 2017 and has previously stated he has full editorial control.
But this morning, The Alex Salmond Show included links to stories such as ‘Putin orders Russian military to “secure the peace” in Donbas’ and ‘Donetsk and Lugansk celebrate’ featuring videos of cheering crowds, fireworks and Russian flags.
This comes in spite of Western leaders denouncing Putin’s move as an invasion after he recognised the two republics as independent regions and ordered tanks and troops to enter Ukraine, violating international law.
Alex Salmond is facing pressure to ditch his morning chat show on the Kremlin-funded network RT
Keir Starmer today called for RT to be banned from airing in the UK, saying it helped Putin’s campaign of misinformation’.
On Monday, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace joked that Salmond could ‘do an in-depth analysis’ of Russian fake news on his chat show, adding: ‘I’m sure he’s open to the highest bidder.’
Meanwhile Donald Cameron, the Scottish Conservative external affairs spokesman, old The Times: ‘It’s an international embarrassment that a former first minister of Scotland has continued to take a pay cheque from what is effectively an extension of the Kremlin, amid these escalating tensions.
‘Ukraine is on the edge of war with an aggressive Russia, yet Alex Salmond sees no ethical conflict in being hand and glove with a major propaganda outlet for Putin’s invading regime.
‘As if we needed any more proof, Alex Salmond has once again demonstrated a complete lack of credibility and moral fitness by continuing with this grubby deal.’
Ross Greer from the Scottish Greens, who share power in Scottish government with the SNP, said: ‘Alex Salmond’s continued involvement with Putin’s RT propaganda department is utterly disgraceful.
‘As a former first minister this is causing real reputational damage to Scotland too. If he and the Kremlin’s other useful idiot George Galloway still possessed an ounce of integrity they’d quit that channel immediately. The fact that neither will speaks volumes.’
A tank, believed to be Russian, is spotted on a street near the city of Donetsk in separatist-held regions of eastern Ukraine
Russian artillery pieces are pictured in Rostov-on-Don, on the Russian side of the Ukrainian border, on Tuesday – as Vladimir Putin ordered his forces to advance on to Ukrainian territory
Vehicles carrying Russian flags are pictured in central Donetsk as some residents celebrate Putin’s recognition of the republic, while Western leaders denounce the move as an invasion
Salmond’s party Alba has condemned the invasion but they also accused Western leaders of breaching assurances to Russia that NATO would not expand eastwards.
The party’s Westminster leader also called for Russia’s ‘security interests’ to be respected.
Neale Hanvey, who defected from the SNP last year, said: ‘Alba condemns the violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Russian recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk as independent republics is a serious breach of the Minsk protocols.
‘This is a moment for cool heads and careful words if we are to avoid a Cuban Missile Crisis in reverse.
‘We need an intensification of diplomatic efforts, dialogue and restraint. A hot war in Europe could quickly spiral with catastrophic consequences stretching far beyond the economy.’
He added: ‘Sanctions can and should be introduced and in terms of dirty London money are long overdue but they must be carefully targeted if they are not to be counterproductive to our own economic security.
‘The spike in energy prices is already being felt in every household across these islands.
But he said Russia’s demands must also be considered by the West.
He said: ‘The task is, as it has always been, how to ensure respect for Ukraine’s rights as an independent country including the recognition of the rights of the Russian speaking minority as stated in the Minsk accords.
Keir Starmer today called for RT to be banned from airing in the UK, saying it helped Putin’s campaign of misinformation’
Russian mobile artillery and armoured troop carriers are seen in Russia’s Rostov-on-Don region on Tuesday, close to the border with Ukraine’s separatist-held areas
‘All of which has to be reconciled with Russia’s own security interests. That requires our acceptance that assurances were offered in the 1990s about NATO expansion eastward which have not been kept.
‘The emphasis at this critical moment should be on de-escalation not escalation. At the end of the day conflict can only be resolved through dialogue and negotiation.’
Alba’s statement is in stark contrast to SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, who retweeted today: ‘Vladimir Putin is an unashamed imperialist and chauvinist and progressives should condemn him to the dustbin of history.’
She also retweeted a statement by Stewart McDonald, the SNP defence spokesman, demanding sanctions including ‘the targeting of Russian disinformation networks’.
Critics have previously described RT coverage of the Ukraine invasion as propaganda and called on Ofcom to revoke its licence.
Salmond’s party Alba has condemned the invasion but they also accused Western leaders of breaching assurances to Russia that NATO would not expand eastwards
Today, Starmer said: ‘Putin’s campaign of misinformation should be tackled, and Russia Today should be prevented from broadcasting its propaganda around the world.’
Lisa Nandy, in Starmer’s Shadow Cabinet, added: ‘When the Russia Report was published we asked Ofcom to review Russia Today’s licence.
‘Given what is unfolding, why is it still freely broadcasting state propaganda in the UK?’
RT has faced previous fines from Ofcom and was forced to cough up £200,000 in 2019 after what the regulator deemed were repeated breaches of impartiality rules in its reporting of the Salisbury Novichok poisonings.
Putin is thought to have moved thousands of troops into rebel-held areas of eastern Ukraine today (dark red area on the map), but there are fears he will try to seize control of the wider regions that separatists lay claim to (lighter shade area)
When questioned about the chemical attack on British soil, Salmond refused to condemn Russia, and said evidence the Kremlin had tried to interfere in the 2016 US election was ‘very slight’.
Germany’s media regulator moved to ban RT’s German language version this month, accusing it of failing to adhere to licensing laws.
A King’s College London study found the network was being used as a tool of state propaganda.
The study said: ‘The use of western experts by Russian news outlets has been identified as a strategy for building credibility with target audiences… hiring political figures such as Alex Salmond and George Galloway to host shows on the network. The benefit to Russia is the generation of credibility and attention.’
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