AS ONE of the most famous newspapers in the world, it presented current affairs from a communist viewpoint throughout the Soviet era in Russia.

But an offshoot of the renowned Pravda brand has insisted that the opening of its first UK office in Edinburgh is no modern “Cold War propaganda campaign”.

The online news site Pravda International, a spin off of the original Soviet-run newspaper, is set up base in the Scottish capital this January followed by a second bureau in London comprising a reporting team of Russian, European and British staff.

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The website’s presence in Edinburgh follows in the wake of the Russian state-controlled news agency Sputnik which opened their office in the city earlier this year and comes amid increasing interest from broadcaster RT (formerly Russia Today), stoking concerns over the growing presence of pro-Putin media in Scotland.

Russia watchers have described its emergence in Scotland as “odd”.

One source, who did not wish to be named, said: “It may be financially independent but I think it will more than ‘broadly’ back the government position.

“As with Sputnik I find Scotland an odd place to start.”

Pravda International said the move will ensure its coverage extends beyond “the Westminster bubble, creating more balanced news coverage”.

Oliver Haste, editor of the UK operation of Pravda International who has English and Russian roots and was previously peripherally involved with the Conservative Party, is spearheading the £8.3 million move, funded by private Russian backers.

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He said that “it is understandable that Scots may have concerns”.

And he added: “In large part this is because Russia is portrayed by the UK media as being an aggressive nation led by a quasi-dictator.

“But I would just ask people to look at the facts on the ground in the Middle East and ask if Western policy has made the world a safer place?”

He said: “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 is important to have a counterbalance to the US administration-led consensus regarding the Middle East.”

Mr Haste, who cites his former girlfriend Carrie Symonds’ father - The Independent co-founder Matthew Symonds - as one of those to encourage him into journalism.

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He added: “At risk of sounding too bizarre we will attempt to be a cross between The Spectator, New Statesman and Vice.”

Pravda International “broadly backs the government’s current position as regards the Middle East”.

Pravda International, which boasts five million hits a month online was created some years after the 1991 Soviet Union dissolution when editors associated with the publication split from the Pravda newspaper, which is still the organ of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, initially to set up the online edition.