George Galloway claimed he has “never been interfered with” by Russia as he joined Alex Salmond in dodging questions over whether he believes Vladimir Putin’s regime was behind the Salisbury poisoning.
Mr Galloway, a former MP and lead candidate of the pro-union All for Unity party, turned his ire towards the BBC as he accused it of turning an interview with him into “Russia-baiting hunt-the-Putin” and being “heavily seeded with nationalists”.
Appearing on the broadcaster’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Friday, Mr Galloway became the second Holyrood candidate with a programme on the Kremlin-backed RT station to refuse to criticise the Russian state.
Alba leader Alex Salmond was branded an “utter disgrace” after he claimed evidence of Russian interference in US elections is “very slight” and that “contested” evidence had been put forward about the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in 2018.
Mr Salmond had to be asked three times whether he believes Russia was behind the poisoning of Mr Skripal, a former Russian military officer and double agent for the British intelligence agencies, and his daughter.
In fiery exchanges with Mr Galloway on Friday, presenter Laura Maciver asked the former Labour and Respect MP if he believed Russia interfered in the 2014 independence referendum or in either of the last two US presidential elections.
Mr Galloway said: “Well it’s very odd that the thesis is that the Russians want to break-up Britain and they want to encourage separatism when they employ me as one of the main hammers of nationalism and separatism.
“It’s a very odd charge, unless the allegation is that Putin is so canny a gambler he’s got money on Alex Salmond and me, he’s betting on separatism and union – it’s all very silly.”
Asked for his view on whether Russians were behind the poisoning of the Skripals, he replied: “If you’ll give me a platform on the BBC but promise not to politically interfere with my output I’d even work for your British state backed broadcaster.
“I have never been interfered with by the Russians, and I’m not sure I can safely say that for the people presenting programmes on the BBC.”
He also claimed that businesses had left Dumfries and Galloway as a direct result of talk over a second independence referendum but failed to cite a single example when repeatedly asked – calling the question “silly”.
Two days in a row @BBCScotlandNews have turned interviews with me into Russia-baiting hunt-the-Putin. The state-backed BBC calling other people state-backed. While thousands of Scottish pensioners were Man-slaughtered in the Care Homes…
— George Galloway (@georgegalloway) April 9, 2021
Following the interview, and a similarly uncomfortable grilling on BBC’s The Nine on Thursday, Mr Galloway took to social media to accuse BBC Scotland of being a “festival against Britain”.
“BBC Scotland is heavily seeded with Scottish Nationalists,” he wrote.
“They hate the Crown but they live well on its half-crown. Their counterparts elsewhere in the corporation ooze Euromania and identity-politics liberalism.”