September 2014

Scotland votes by a 10-point margin to remain part of the UK. There has been lots of political rhetoric about Vladimir Putin’s regime trying to nudge voters one way or another in the referendum. 

But the first properly documented Kremlin operation comes immediately after the vote: by starting and then amplifying claims the poll was rigged. The narrative took off. This comes after an internationally criticised plebiscite in Crimea after its forced annexation by Putin earlier that year. 

September 2015

A new media outlet, the brainchild of Kremlin propaganda chief Dmitri Kiselyov, announces that it is to open a base in Edinburgh. Sputnik moves to hire locals, including Scottish independence supporters, though many subsequently leave. Former employees last week told The Times that its newsroom was “shambolic”. Meanwhile, the SNP shuns an overture from a Moscow campaign group close to the Kremlin and refuses to attend a “separatist summit” in the Russian capital.

June 2016

Britain votes for Brexit. Some Remainers  and observers accuse Russia of amplifying anti-EU sentiment. Last week’s Russia Report revealed no serious study has been carried out on this.

May 2017 

A conference convened in the Scottish Parliament hears anonymised expert views from Moscow that Russian propaganda will move against the SNP after Brexit. 

READ MORE: Kremlin mouthpiece sets up UK base in Edinburgh

November 2017

Nicola Sturgeon is understood to be distraught as her former mentor and predecessor Alex Salmond unveils a show on Russian state TV RT as the channel recruits celebrities to boost its credibility. A senior SNP politician, then MEP Alyn Smith, responds with an F-word, for the record. Opposition leaders round on both Salmond and Sturgeon.

Some Russia watchers whisper that this - among other things - could be seen as an attack on the SNP by widening internal party divisions.

December 2017 

As it becomes clearer that Russia was behind the claims the 2014 vote was rigged, the SNP announces that it would be naive to assume the current Russian government was not trying to intervene in Scottish politics.

READ MORE: SNP claims Russia is likely to have interfered in referendum

March 2018

Senior SNP figures claim that Nicola Sturgeon has come under attack from Kremlin trolls masquerading as ‘cybernats” after she condemns the Russian Government over the attempted assassination of former double agents Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

READ MORE: SNP top brass warn: Sturgeon is being targeted by Kremlin trolls

August 2018

A leading expert in Russian social media disinformation campaigns looks at a group of online sockpuppet accounts amplifying conspiracy theories about Alex Salmond on Twitter and concludes they are Scottish, not Russian. His findings are repeatedly falsely misrepresented in the Scottish blogosphere as an attempt to paint local McBots as Kremlin operatives.

READ MORE: Meet the McBots: how Scottish cyber activists try to game Twitter

August 2019

Senior SNP frontbenchers continue to criticise the Russian government over its war in Ukraine and its human rights record at home as relations between Edinburgh and Moscow sour further. 

In a message aimed at Scottish nationalists who still consume RT and Sputnik, the party’s defence spokesman Stewart McDonald, tweets: “If you’re on RT then you’re on the side of the oppressor against the oppressed.”

March 2020

Salmond is acquitted of sex charges at the High Court in Edinburgh. It emerges that RT had sought to do opinion polling on his guilt or innocence. The channel’s head had previously tried to link charges against to his work for the Russian broadcaster.