Alex Salmond is an “utter disgrace”. 

That was the first headline to appear this morning about the former first minister’s apologism for Vladimir Putin. In Kyrgyzstan. 

There are going to be an awful lot of things said in Scotland about Mr Salmond over the next few weeks. 

After all, he may be toxic politically, but this car-crash of a has-been really does make great copy for Scottish journalists. 

But not just for us. Mr Salmond’s often astonishingly ill-judged and ignorant pronouncements on global issues mean he will get media attention way beyond our borders, especially in former Soviet republics in Central Asia.

Why? Because nearly four years ago Mr Salmond chose to host a show on Vladimir Putin’s main English-language mouthpiece, RT. 

And in doing so he joined an international cast of cranks, cowboys and conspiracists who - wittingly or unwittingly - support Russia’s hardman.

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This morning on Radio Scotland Mr Salmond refused not once but three times to say whether he thought Mr Putin’s assassins were behind the poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yuliya - and therefore the “collateral” murder of Dawn Sturgess. He also dismissed evidence of Russian meddling in US politics as “slight’. 

This is a big deal for Scotland. 

We have a candidate for the Scottish Parliament parroting Kremlin talking points - what old Russia-hands like me would call disinformation narratives - on national radio. 

And the candidate concerned earns his keep hosting a show on Putin TV, on a channel funded and controlled from Moscow.

Can people who work for the Kremlin’s propaganda machinery criticise the Russian government? Probably, yes, if they pick the right topic. Can they challenge core messages around the wars in Ukraine and Syria or the poisonings of Navalny or the Skripals? Mr Salmond’s responses to robust interviewing from the BBC’s consistently excellent Gary Robertson suggests not.

There are subtle but important differences between various personalities on Putin’s Kremlin outlets. To be fair to Mr Salmond, he rarely enters the world of Russian politics, unless, as he was with Mr Robertson, he is pressed. 

HeraldScotland: The Alex Salmond Show

However, his RT colleague - and ostensible political opponent - George Galloway is far freer and more articulate in his explicit support for Mr Putin. 

It looks like Mr Galloway will flop. His ultra-unionist slate on the list vote is polling at half a percent. Mr Salmond is doing a little better. His Alba party was clocked by IPSOS Mori today at three per cent. 

So both Kremlin TV personalities are proving electorally marginal. 

Foreign policy wonks around the world will have pricked up their ears when Mr Salmond dissembled about Putin and the Skripals today. But the harsh truth for the former SNP leader is that he is largely irrelevant in Scotland. And so are the people who pay his bills.

RT is fringe. Its sister outlet, Sputnik, last week effectively shut up shop in Edinburgh, where it has its UK base. It had failed to find a Scottish audience.

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Reporters, like me, who have covered attempts by Putin’s propaganda outlets to carve a niche in Scotland are often mocked with social media jibes that ‘the Russians are coming’. Well, they are not coming; they are going.

But that does not mean all is well. We have a terrible habit in Scotland of thinking that disinformation only comes from Russia or that it is primary directed at us. We think in terms of “Kremlin meddling”; we ask ourselves what Putin wants in Scotland. These are perfectly sensible questions, even if they are hard to answer.

But we never think about how and why our politics can help push disinformation elsewhere. 

Take Russia. An awful lot of its open-source propaganda about the Scottish independence referendum focused on events in Crimea, not here. It was the Kremlin and Kremlin media that claimed the first indyref was fixed. That caused mild problems in Scotland. But it provided terrific whataboutery in Ukraine when Russia’s plebiscite to rubber-stamp its military annexation of the Black Sea peninsula was rightly criticised as bogus.

So as Salmond and Galloway are sneered at by opponents and journalists at home, remember what they say is not just reported here. It travels. It has resonance. A former first minister who won’t say Putin tried to kill the Skripals may not be a viable or credible candidate for Holyrood. But he is, as the old cliche goes, an idiot who still has his uses. Just watch those little stories fly around the world, even in Kyrgyzstan.