Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson gave an interview to Russian broadcaster Sputnik News, according to the station’s presenter.
In a series of tweets on social media, Mark Hirst claimed he had interviewed Davidson on two occasions. The Sputnik News presenter also claimed to have interviewed Davidson’s party colleague Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole Hamilton.
One tweet read: “These politicians, @agcolehamilton @RuthDavidsonMSP and Sir Malcolm Rifkind, have all suffered from the same amnesia that struck @patrickharvie last year. This was the first of two interviews I did with the Scottish Tory leader.”
Presenter Hirst linked to an audio clip on youtube containing what appeared to be recordings of conversations he had held with all three politicians.
In one segment, Hirst could be heard introducing himself to Davidson explaining who he worked for. The Scottish Conservative leader replies: “Wow, I’ve never even heard of Sputnik. Russia Today, yeah, but Sputnik News?”
Hirst clarifies, “It’s part of the same organisation.” to which Davidson responds, “I’ve heard of TASS + stuff…”
Hirst explains the station’s former name, “Sputnik used to be RIANovosti…” and Davidson says : “Ah, right OK. Yeah, ok of course.” Hirst then asks for an interview.
The recording follows recent calls from the Scottish Conservative leader for Russian TV Station RT and Sputnik to be closed down in the UK.
Speaking earlier this month, Davidson said: “We must reject any attempt to draw moral equivalence between Britain’s vigorous free media, and the highly polished counterfeit versions that Russia is promoting.
“Firstly, that means cracking down on Russia’s ability to broadcast falsehoods in this country – by, for example, tougher regulation of the soft-sell propaganda of Russian Today and its Sputnik offshoot.”
Davidson was also critical of Alex Salmond’s weekly TV Show on RT, saying: “I hope we can soon pull the plug on it.”
Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling for RT to have its broadcasting licence suspended in the UK.
The calls for the stations to be closed down were condemned by the National Union of Journalists. In a statement, Dominic Bascombe, Scotland organiser for the NUJ said: “The NUJ believes that journalists and journalism should not be banned.
“If politicians wish to raise issues of concern about the ethical or reporting standards of any media organisation then they should do so. Banning a media outlet is an extreme step and would put the livelihoods of journalists at risk.”
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