Watch: Russian state TV claims Boris Johnson's popularity will fall if British fighters are executed
A propagandist presenter on Russian state TV has claimed that Boris Johnson's popularity will fall if British fighters are executed in occupied areas of Ukraine.
Three British fighters captured in Ukraine face the death penalty after being accused of being war criminals by Moscow-backed officials in the southern region of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).
One of the men, 28-year-old Aiden Aslin, is accused of being a foreign mercenary – which would prevent him from having protection under the Geneva Convention – when, in fact, Aslin holds dual citizenship and was fighting with the Ukrainian army.
Russian state TV is closely controlled by the Kremlin and is often used as a means to circulate Moscow-backed propaganda to shape public perception.
Commentators on Russia-1 discussed the prisoners on Monday night around the same time Boris Johnson faced a vote of no confidence from his own MPs.
The result saw 148 of his own turn against him, dealing a significant blow to the PM's authority.
However, the presenter on Russia-1, Vladimir Solovyov, appeared to suggest that Johnson had manufactured the vote of no confidence against himself.
Solovyov asked: "Why did Boris Johnson decide today of all days to play a sequence of moves, sort of like 'let's see what my approval rating is and see whether I get to stay?'" he said.
"Because he realises that this time he'll definitely stay.
"But when they dispatch them [referring to the British prisoners], when the court makes it ruling, at that point Johnson will face questions because he couldn't get the British nationals out.
"That's why he made the first move."
The vote against Johnson was not engineered by the prime minister. It came as a direct result of 54 Conservative MPs issuing letters calling for the PM to resign.
Solovyov is widely recognised as being a key Moscow propagandist and has been described as 'Putin's voice'.
Most recently, he claimed that the Ukraine conflict was heading towards a "massive nuclear strike" that would leave "only a couple of mutants" left alive.
His comments are the latest example of the war on information that has led to some Russian TV channels being banned by the US, UK and EU.
Aslin, originally from Newark-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire, joined the Ukrainian marines in 2018 and had been fighting with his unit in Mariupol during the Ukraine crisis.
He was captured in April after his unit was surrounded and they ran out of ammunition and supplies.
Pictures and video of a battered and bruised Aslin were shared as part of Russia's propaganda campaign, in which he asked for Johnson to swap him and two other British prisoners for a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician.
Two other captured British nationals, 48-year-old Shaun Pinner and 35-year-old Andrew Hill, are also being tried as mercenaries and could face similar charges.
All three have been filmed apparently "admitting" to war crimes, with the footage being shared online.
One of the guests on Monday's programme also said their execution would have a "serious impact" on the situation.
They added: "The Donetsk prosecutor's office has just recognised the mercenaries who it's come to the conclusion that deserve the death penalty.
"If the court approves the death penalty, if Anglo-Saxons are lines up and shot for the first time, that will have a much more serious impact."