Salmond To Meet Ukrainian Community

Some of Scotland's Ukrainian community who were offended when Alex Salmond said he admired "certain aspects'' of Russian president Vladimir Putin will meet the First Minister today.

Mr Salmond will have talks behind closed doors with a small group of the Ukrainian community.

It comes after the Association of Ukrainians called of the First Minister to apologise for his remarks.

Michael Ostapko, the association's chairman in Scotland, said at the time that the SNP leader "'owes us a sincere apology'' for his remarks, which left Ukrainians living in Scotland feeling ''insulted, dismayed and upset''.

The First Minister responded by offering to meet members of the community living in Scotland.

He told the association last month that it was a "matter of regret that some of the comments in the interview have been reported out of context'' and he would like to "reiterate'' his position.

''As I made clear in the interview, and elsewhere, I disapprove of a range of Russian actions," he said in a letter to the group last month.

''Indeed, I have had no hesitation in condemning Russia's activities in the Ukraine, the illegal annexation of the Crimea and its continued support for armed militia in the east of the country.''

But Mr Ostapko claimed that was "'a standard, somewhat tardy explanation strewn with political party rhetoric and little on the only matter we raised from his GQ interview; the praise of Putin the architect of the dismantling of nation, Ukraine (not the Ukraine, an offensive description to Ukrainians)''.

In his GQ interview, conducted by Alastair Campbell, when asked about Mr Putin, Mr Salmond said: ''Well, obviously, I don't approve of a range of Russian actions, but I think Putin's more effective than the press he gets I would have thought, and you can see why he carries support in Russia.''

Pressed on whether he admires the Russian leader, the First Minister said: ''Certain aspects. He's restored a substantial part of Russian pride and that must be a good thing. There are aspects of Russian constitutionality and the inter-mesh with business and politics that are obviously difficult to admire. Russians are fantastic people, incidentally, they are lovely people.''


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