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‘Unthinkable’ that Alex Salmond still has show on RT, says First Minister

The UK Culture Secretary has instructed Ofcom to review the operation of the Kremlin-backed broadcaster in the UK.

23 February 2022

It is “unthinkable” that Alex Salmond still has a show on a Kremlin-backed broadcaster, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The former first minister launched his self-titled show on Russia Today (RT) in 2017, drawing the ire of many across Scottish political life – including his successor Ms Sturgeon.

The show is produced independently and broadcast on the Russian station in the UK.

But aggressions by Russia towards Ukraine, with 200,000 troops massing on the border between the two nations, has led to renewed criticism of the Alba Party leader.

Speaking to STV News on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon backed calls for Ofcom to revoke the licence of RT to broadcast in the UK.

She said: “It’s a matter for Ofcom, but I do think there is now a very serious question about whether RT should continue to have a licence to broadcast here in Scotland and I would certainly encourage Ofcom to look at that very, very seriously and closely indeed.”

When asked about Mr Salmond’s show being broadcast on the network, the First Minister said: “I’m appalled at Alex Salmond’s continued involvement with RT, I don’t think it’s any secret now that I don’t think he should ever have had a television show on RT, but it is even more unthinkable now that that should continue.”

Ms Sturgeon went on to say that elected officials should not appear on the broadcaster.

“I don’t think any elected representative should be contemplating appearing on RT right now, I will give that message – have given that message – to elected officials here at the Scottish Parliament, I know (SNP Westminster leader) Ian Blackford has done so in Westminster.”

Her comments came as UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries instructed Ofcom to review the operation of RT in the UK.

In a letter to the regulator, Ms Dorries said the channel is “demonstrably part of Russia’s global disinformation campaign”, adding: “I have concerns that broadcasters such as RT, whom Ofcom have found to have repeatedly breached the broadcasting code in the past, will also look to spread harmful disinformation about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine here in the UK.”

Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer described Mr Salmond – along with fellow politician-turned-RT host George Galloway – as a “useful idiot”, adding: “Alex Salmond’s continued involvement with Putin’s RT propaganda department is utterly disgraceful.

“He’d struggle to disgrace his own reputation more than is already the case, but 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.”

Mr Salmond’s Alba Party has also been criticised in recent days for claiming any resolution to the crisis in Ukraine would have to consider Russia’s “security interests”.

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