RUSSIA has issued a direct appeal to Scotland that it is "open for business" following allegations of meddling and hacking by Westminster

Speaking to Andrew Marr, the Russian Ambassador to the UK Andrei Kelin denied Russian actors had been involved in the general election last year, or had state-sponsored hackers tried to snatch research about the Covid-19 vaccine.

When asked about Russia's interest in Scotland and the independence movement Mr Kelin said: "Our interest in Scotland is only one: We are open for business."

He added: " Interesting idea very frankly. I do not believe that Scotland will withdraw from United Kingdom because as I understand for Scotland it will be very uneasy to leave - being separate from the United Kingdom."

It comes ahead of a report due to be published this week into the involvement of Russia in UK politics.

It is understood it will look at potential interference in the EU Referendum and the general elections, but also at the 2014 Independence Referendum

Mr Kelin said Russia's policy "is not a policy of interference in British elections.We do not have such a policy.

"We do not have a policy of interference in the elections in the United States."

Last week GCHQ's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) announced long with the US and Canada intelligence services, that they believed Russian-backed hackers were attempting to steal vaccine-related information and research from UK academics and pharmaceutical companies as well as those in North America.

The Russian government has denied this, with Mr Kelin reiterating the point this morning.

He said: " I don’t believe in this story at all. There is no sense in it.

"First of all I would like to explain things about cyber attacks, because there are normal ways to discuss cyber attacks and there are ways to discuss it via media of course. What we are proposing is to discuss it in a normal way and we suggest that it at several occasions to UK as well, to have bilateral consultations on this subject."

When asked by Marr whether he had watched the BBC's dramatisation of the poisonings of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, the ambassador said the programme was "so dull".

He explained:"I saw part of them. They are so dull I’m afraid that I couldn’t stand until the end of the first series but my colleagues have seen and later on they told me about it."