Alex Salmond defends Vladimir Putin remarks
Scotland’s first minister clarifies views about Russian president given to Alastair Campbell in GQ interview.
Alex Salmond has resisted calls for an apology after saying Russian president Vladimir Putin’s patriotism was “entirely reasonable”.
At the launch of Scottish National party’s European election campaign, Scotland’s first minister said his remarks had been misunderstood and he would not be retracting them. He said: “When people see the comments I made, they will see that they’re perfectly reasonable. I said I deprecated Russian actions in Ukraine and also its human rights record. I pointed out that the western press underestimated Putin and that’s obviously true.”
Salmond encountered a storm of protest after stating he admired “certain aspects” of Putin’s politics and his restoration “of a substantial part of Russian pride” in an interview conducted on 14 March for the May edition of the men’s magazine GQ with Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former spin doctor.
Michael Ostapko, the Scottish chairman of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, said Ukrainians had made “overwhelming comments [of] hurt, disgust, betrayal and astonishment” and called for Salmond to retract his comments. In the Commons, his remarks were described as a “gross error of judgment” by William Hague, the foreign secretary, and as a “dreadful blunder” by Jim Murphy, the shadow international development secretary.
The Mail Online website quoted Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov, saying he “agrees with the viewpoint of the Scottish first minister”.