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Alex Salmond suspends show on Russian state TV after call to ‘repent’

Alex Salmond was first minister when Johann Lamont made her speech. Image: DC Thomson.

Former first minister Alex Salmond has “suspended” his controversial show on Russia Today hours after Vladimir Putin ordered a deadly invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

Mr Salmond has been under intense pressure to act, including from his former SNP ally Nicola Sturgeon.

The Alex Salmond Show went ahead on the RT channel on Thursday morning just as shocking images began to emerge of military invasion and rocket launches from invading Russian troops.

In a statement, Mr Salmond said his show is suspended until further notice, adding: “We now have the worst of all fears – a hot war in Europe.”

He continued: “The efforts of every single person should be to re-establish the peace.

“That certainly is our focus, and therefore Slàinte Media have decided to suspend the Alex Salmond Show until that can be secured.

“There is no productive point in having the future of a television show dominate Prime Minister’s Questions as it did yesterday, when politicians should be rising to the occasion of the great issues of peace in Europe.”

He insisted there has never been any editorial “interference” from RT.

People stand next to fragments of military equipment on the street in the aftermath of an apparent Russian strike in Kharkiv in Kharkiv, Ukraine,. AP Photo/Andrew Marienko

Mr Salmond said his colleague, the former MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, is concerned for her family’s safety.

“The blatant attacks on freedom of speech from establishment political parties are not just entirely hypocritical, but have whipped up a crescendo of personal abuse and harassment of my co-presenter Ms Ahmed-Sheikh to the extent that she is now quite legitimately concerned about the safety of her family,” Mr Salmond added.

“All wars come to an end. Let us pray that this one will not escalate even further. Now every single persons’ efforts should turn to supporting attempts to regain the peace.”

Michael Gove says Salmond should ‘repent’

On Thursday afternoon, UK Government minister Michael Gove said it was a fundamental miscalculation to associate with the “propaganda” channel, known as RT.

Mr Gove, who was at the Scottish Parliament, said: “I hope he repents of his decision to associate himself with Putin’s propaganda arm.

“Alex Salmond made a distinguished contribution during much of his time as first minister and made a distinguished contribution to Parliament.

“But I hope he will reflect on the fact that he and others in the Alba Party and the Yes movement have made a fundamental miscalculation in their attitude towards Vladimir Putin’s regime and now is an opportunity to make clear that they repudiate what Vladimir Putin, his propaganda arm, and his supporters are doing.”

Vince Cable slated for guest appearance

He said any decision on RT’s licence is for the broadcast regulator.

The show, which airs each week, featured an interview with former Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable, who was also drawn into the row.

Sir Vince was punting his new book in a move which clearly embarrassed Scottish Lib Dem politicians who spent days criticising Mr Salmond’s position.

Ukrainians hold a protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine outside Downing Street, central London. Picture by Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

A party spokesperson said Sir Vince was “wrong” to appear as a guest.

Sir Vince said he has asked RT “not to broadcast or make use of the interview”, emphasising the conversation had “nothing to do with the security situation and Ukraine”.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton stated: “Vince Cable is a private citizen and no longer a Lib Dem parliamentarian, but his appearance on Salmond’s RT show this morning was entirely wrong.

“So too is Salmond’s continued association with this agent of a hostile power.

“No elected Scottish Liberal Democrat will appear on RT.”

Mr Salmond was approached for comment.

VIDEO: Nicola Sturgeon and Holyrood leaders say Ukraine must be defended against Russia