The Guardian

Salmond refuses to accept Russia was guilty of poisoning

- Severin Carrell Dan Sabbagh

Alex Salmond has been accused of being an apologist for Vladimir Putin’s Russian regime after refusing to say whether Moscow was to blame for the Salisbury poisonings in 2018.

The former Scottish first minister was asked three times in a BBC Scotland interview whether Russia was behind the poisoning attacks on Sergei and Yulia Skripal, and each time refused to give a yes or no answer.

Instead he said: “Evidence came forward and was contested, that I said should go to the internatio­nal tribunals and courts. I said that at the time. I think the evidence came forward and people can see it for what it is.”

The Scottish Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said that since Salmond had begun hosting a political chatshow on the Kremlin-funded RT TV channel, he had been “spinning Russian propaganda lines”.

Stewart McDonald, the Scottish National party’s defence spokespers­on, criticised Salmond’s remarks, saying: “Even Russians believe that Russia was behind the Salisbury poisoning that resulted in the murder of Dawn Sturgess [who picked up a contaminat­ed perfume bottle]. That Alex Salmond can’t see or say that plainly shows how remarkably low he has sunk.”

Peter Ricketts, a cross-bench peer and former national government security adviser, told the Guardian: “There is no shadow of a doubt that this was the Russian state, and no shred of evidence it could have been anyone else.”

Now the leader of Alba, a new proindepen­dence party, Salmond also denied the Russians had meddled in the 2014 Scottish independen­ce referendum. Westminste­r’s intelligen­ce and security committee, which includes an SNP MP, said last July “there has been credible open source commentary suggesting Russia undertook influence campaigns in relation to the referendum in 2014”.

Salmond said of these findings: “Anybody who analysed the evidence that was suggested would think it laughable, in my opinion.”

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