ALEX Salmond has been branded Vladimir Putin’s “useful idiot” as he came under more political pressure to quit his chat show on the Kremlin-backed RT channel.

The latest condemnation of the former First Minister has come from Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton, who said: “Alex Salmond needs to end his relationship with Russia Today.

“In the space of a week we’ve seen Vladimir Putin fan anti-Semitism by blaming US election meddling on the Russian Jewish community and the nerve agent used in a murder plot on British soil traced back to Russian labs.”

He went on: “If even a prime minister who has faced criticism in recent months over members of her party ‘taking the rouble’ can call this out, then why can’t our former First Minister?”

READ MORE: TV watchdog moves closer to banning Kremlin channel hosting Alex Salmond show

Mr Cole-Hamilton said that the former SNP leader had claimed editorial control of his show, which meant he should condemn the latest developments.

He added: “Salmond has played the useful [and well paid] idiot in RT’s veneer of respectability for long enough.”

Harold Elletson, a Russia expert and former Conservative MP, said Mr Salmond “wouldn’t have a leg to stand on” if he remained at RT.

The broadcaster told The Times that the channel was “a propaganda instrument of the Russian state, at a time when Russia was engaged in a very aggressive information campaign, if not an information war, against the West. That puts Salmond in an extremely difficult position.”

He added: “Sometimes the truth is more important than the paycheck.”

At the weekend, John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, urged Labour MPs not to appear on RT.

READ MORE: TV watchdog moves closer to banning Kremlin channel hosting Alex Salmond show

One of them, Ian Murray, who represents Edinburgh South, branded the channel a “Kremlin mouthpiece and no British politicians should appear on it”.

He added: “John McDonnell understands this but Alex Salmond continues to take the Putin pound. While he long ago gave up any pretence of being a statesman, surely even with his colossal ego, he understands he must now quit RT.”

Mr Salmond has yet to respond to his critics.

At Westminster, Labour’s Stephen Doughty tabled a parliamentary motion urging the Westminster authorities to “remove Russia Today from the in-house broadcasting system,” called on MPs “not to undertake interviews for Russia Today” and asked Ofcom, the media regulator to review RT's UK broadcasting licence.

READ MORE: TV watchdog moves closer to banning Kremlin channel hosting Alex Salmond show

It is thought that Theresa May could be considering moves to close RT as part of her range of options should Moscow, as is expected, fail to give a credible response to the suggestion it was behind the attempted murder by nerve agent of Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33.

However, while some feel closing the Putin-supporting channel would be the right move given the grave circumstances, others argue that a boycott of RT would be more appropriate in a country that prides itself on freedom of speech.