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Rennie tells Ukrainian community that the First Minister does not speak for Scotland

May 1, 2014 10:22 AM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Opposition leaders have written to the leader of Scotland's UkrainianWillie RennieWillie Rennie community to disassociate themselves with comments made by the First Minister expressing admiration of "certain aspects" of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In a joint letter from Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, the leaders have told Scottish chair of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain that in praising President Putin at this time, the First Minister did not speak for them.

The joint letter said:

Dear Mr Ostapko,

We write jointly to express our support with the people of Ukraine as they face the aggressive
actions of Russia at this time, and to disassociate ourselves with comments by First Minister Alex
Salmond expressing his admiration of "some aspects" of Russian President Vladimir Putin's

In his interview with GQ magazine, which took place a few days before Crimea's unlawful
referendum on independence, Mr Salmond declared that Mr Putin had "restored a substantial part
of Russian pride and that must be a good thing".

We regret that, despite finding time to praise Mr Putin at this time, Mr Salmond did not use the
interview to criticise the illiberal laws banning gay "propaganda" in Russia, under Mr Putin's control.
We regret that Mr Salmond did not raise the authoritarian media ownership laws in Russia, pushed
ahead by Mr Putin.

Above all, we regret that Mr Salmond did not express concern for Russia's support for the
unconstitutional and illegitimate referendum in Crimea which led within days to its annexation by
Mr Putin.

We wish to convey to Scotland's Ukrainian community that in praising Mr Putin at this time, the First
Minister did not speak for us. We believe that his comments at this most difficult of times for
Ukraine amounted to a grave misjudgement which ill-serves Scotland's well-founded international
reputation as a nation which has always stood up for human rights and the rule of law.

From his criticism of NATO air strikes on Serbia as an "unpardonable folly" to his refusal more
recently to meet the Dalai Lama, Mr Salmond has often been out of step with mainstream Scottish

We believe that, in this intervention, he is out of step once more.

Yours sincerely,

Ruth Davidson, Scottish Conservative leader

Johann Lamont, Scottish Labour leader

Willie Rennie, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader