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News

Pravda comes to Scotland 'to extend Russian influence in UK'

Pravda, one of the most famous and controversial newspapers in the world, is planning to set up a branch in Edinburgh.

Pravda International, the privately owned online news wing of the outlet that evolved from the former Soviet Communist party newspaper, will open in the Scottish capital in January.

A second office, in London, is set to arrive later next year.

A team of eight journalists will work in Edinburgh under the UK editor, Oliver Haste. He is quoted in the Edinburgh Evening News as saying that the aim is to give Russia’s foreign strategy “more influence” in Britain.

He told the paper: “I think it is fair to say that Russia does wish to have more influence in the media environment in the UK, but I don’t think this should be seen in the context of a cold war propaganda campaign.

“It’s important to have a counterbalance to the US-administration-led consensus regarding the Middle East.

“We broadly believe that Russian foreign policy in the Middle East has been ­correct … Our support of the Russian government is not due to blind nationalism but because their policy in the Middle East has been proven to be wiser.”

The Herald, the Glasgow-based daily, points out that the Pravda website’s arrival in Edinburgh follows in the wake of the Russian state-controlled news agency Sputnik, which opened an office in the city earlier this year.

It also reports that there is “increasing interest” from the broadcaster RT (formerly known as Russia Today), “stoking concerns over the growing presence of pro-Putin media in Scotland”.

Pravda (meaning Truth) was founded in 1912 and soon became the main campaigning organ of the Bolsheviks led by Lenin. Later, from the 1950s onwards, it was the mouthpiece of the Communist party throughout the cold war.

At its height, it was selling 11m copies. Now the newspaper is thought to sell far fewer than the 100,000 claimed in 2013 and is run by the Russian Communist party.

It is separate from the privately owned online site Pravda.ru, which has international editions published in Russian, English, Italian and Portuguese.