Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, has revealed that he admires “certain aspects” of Vladimir Putin’s leadership. He also said it was “good thing” that confidence in the country had returned, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The Scottish Nationalist suggested the Russian president “more effective” than press reports suggest. He made the remarks on 14th March, when world leaders were pressuring Russia over their actions in Crimea.
His comments have only just come to light as they were made in an interview for GQ magazine, due to be published this week. Salmond was interviewed by former Blair strategy director and spin-doctor, Alistair Campbell.
The controversial comments have been attacked by the Scottish Conservatives. Deputy leader, Jackson Carlaw said that Mr Salmond’s view “makes a mockery of the Scottish Government’s faux outrage over the Crimea situation”.
When asked about Putin in the interview, Alex 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.”
Campbell then pressed him on whether he admired what Putin had done in Russia. 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.”
Mr Salmond’s spokesmen have pointed out that his remarks were made before Crimea was annexed. However his comments came two days before the Crimean referendum, when it was already becoming clear that Putin would annex the territory.
Last month the media attacked Nigel Farage for expressing admiration for Vladimir Putin. Despite the fact that Mr Salmond is a far more senior post he is not expected to attract the same level of criticism.