EDINBURGH Chamber of Commerce has been condemned for agreeing to "connect" a Russian propaganda outlet with key members of the capital's business community.

The Chamber was last night under growing pressure to expel Sputnik UK after accepting it as a corporate member – and pledging to help it "grow and raise its profile".

Sputnik, which was recently described as a “Kremlin propaganda machine” by Nato, revealed it had “partnered” with the trade body earlier this month.

At the time, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce said it was delighted to welcome Sputnik, adding that it would support the “international news agency” and connect it with key city stakeholders.

Now figures from almost every major political party in Scotland have urged the Chamber to reconsider, describing Sputnik as a “propaganda outlet for a brutal and authoritarian Kremlin regime”.

Last night, the Chamber said it would “review” Sputnik’s membership in light of the matter being brought to its attention.

SNP MP Martin Docherty, a member of Westminster’s Defence Committee, said: “I’m not entirely sure if a website which seems mainly consist of conspiracy theories, casual Islamophobia, and soft-soap stories about Russian politics can be considered an ‘international news agency’, and I doubt many ‘key city stakeholders’ will be interested in meeting Sputnik executives once they’ve had a look at the content.”

Sputnik has been widely accused of spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories, and was last year banned from advertising on Twitter amid fears it attempted to interfere in the 2016 US election.

Intelligence officials have condemned it as a "a platform for Kremlin messaging", while Nato spokeswoman Oana Lungescu previously accused it of “trying to use information for political and military needs”.

The latest controversy comes as 13 Russians were charged with interfering in the US election last week as part of an ongoing FBI probe.

Sputnik’s Edinburgh office is based at Exchange Tower on Canning Street, where it says it mostly focuses on international news. Its head office is in Moscow.

In a release put out by the agency earlier this month, Sputnik UK’s editor-in-chief Egor Piskunov described its membership of the Chamber as a “good step forward” and a "great platform".

And Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s head of corporate and international development, Alexia Haramis, added: “As an international news agency which is relatively new to Edinburgh, we look forward to supporting Sputnik to grow and raise its profile in Edinburgh, connecting them with fellow members and key city stakeholders.”

According to the Chamber’s website, corporate membership is aimed at “any business or organisation whose desire is to play an even more proactive role in the future development of our capital city”, and costs £1,250 for a company of 750 staff or under.

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton, who represents Edinburgh Western, said organisations such as Sputnik “pump out Putin-backed propaganda and have been complicit in the cover up of events from human rights breaches to the Russian invasion of Crimea”.

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said it was “alarming that the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce should hand legitimacy to a crackpot company like this”.

He added: “Sputnik isn’t a reputed media outlet – it’s a ramshackle propaganda platform run by amateurs. Bodies like the Chamber of Commerce have a responsibility when it comes to who they team up with, and this is an arrangement they should reconsider.”

Ross Greer MSP, the Scottish Greens’ culture and media spokesman, said: “Sputnik is merely a propaganda outlet for a brutal and authoritarian Kremlin regime which is known to murder journalists, and which is currently using its online reach to undermine democracies around the world.

“The Chamber of Commerce really must explain why they are legitimising Kremlin propaganda in Scotland rather than standing up for a free press.”

A spokesman for Sputnik said that as “the only international media agency with a UK head office in Edinburgh”, membership of the Chamber offered the chance to build relationships and engage with other businesses.

He added: "We hope that the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce will ignore discriminative and groundless accusations and our relationship will continue to grow and develop as positively as it has done since we became members.

“We would urge The Herald to concentrate on their reputation and producing news that their readers deserve, rather than obsessing about the everyday activities of Sputnik.”

A spokeswoman for the Chamber said: “Sputnik joined through the normal membership process. Now that the matter has been brought to the attention of the Chamber the executive will review their membership and take any action thought appropriate.”