OUSTED Catalan president Carles Puigdemont is the first guest on former First Minister Alex Salmond’s new television show when it broadcasts today.

Puigdemont’s wide-ranging and deeply personal interview was filmed at a secret location in Belgium, where he is currently in exile after being charged with rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.

The Catalan government was sacked by Madrid after Puigdemont made a unilateral declaration of independence following a referendum in which an overwhelming majority of Catalans who voted said they wanted to leave Spain. Subsequent calls for mediation made by the Catalan president were rebuffed by Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy.

In today’s interview with Salmond – which aired for the first time at 7.30am on Russia Today and will go out twice more – Puigdemont lays down three challenges. The first is a request to Rajoy to respect the result of elections being held next month – called by the prime minister after the dissolution of the Catalan parliament – even if it returns another positive result for those seeking independence.

His second challenge is a call on other European governments and institutions to support the peaceful and democratic path to change – the previous poll was marred by violence, as the Spanish national police and Civil Guard attempted to stop Catalans from voting.

The third and final challenge Puigdemont will lay down is to the secretary-general of the United Nations, requesting that a Catalan representative is permitted to address the General Assembly

It is the first major interview Puigdemont has ever conducted in English – his fourth language.

“I call on all Catalans to remain peaceful in the face of violence. In the end democracy will prevail,” Puigdemont says.

The programme is also thought to feature interviews with two senior Tory and Labour parliamentarians on the subjects of sexism at Westminster and LGBT rights.

Salmond’s decision to have his television show broadcast on Russia Today has attracted criticism from those who claim the channel is merely a mouthpiece for Russian president Vladimir Putin.

“I am delighted with this first show, Salmond told The National. ‘‘It demolishes the criticism from the mainstream media that I was running a some sort of propaganda viewing for the Kremlin.’’

‘‘The range of guests and the subject matter demonstrate a very different agenda. Maybe some will have the grace to eat humble pie.

“Meanwhile, the Unionist parties are drowning in their own hypocrisy of criticising a show before they had even seen it and slating one in which their own parliamentary colleagues are strongly featured. People should remember RT UK is licensed by the broadcasting authorities and regulated by Ofcom. It can’t broadcast propaganda even if it wanted to.”

The former First Minister last night wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May to ask her to clarify her position on his new show after it was reported that a Downing Street source had urged Salmond to “reconsider” his involvement, reportedly saying: “As members of his own party have urged, Mr Salmond might do well to reconsider his curious decision to host a programme on Russia Today.”

The quote was initially published on the Politics Home website and subsequently picked up by other media outlets. Salmond asks May to clarify if the quote reflects her position as Prime Minister.

“Since the first of this series of programmes, produced independently by my own Scottish production company, Slainte Media Ltd, is due to be screened by RT UK tomorrow morning I require to know urgently if this accurately reflects your position as Prime Minister,” Salmond wrote.

“I need hardly tell you that using the power of your office to seek to dissuade a private citizen from broadcasting on a channel which is duly licensed by the British broadcasting authority, Ofcom, carries with it the most serious possible implications for freedom of speech in this country. Will you now tell me by return if this is a genuine quote or not and whether it reflects your position as Prime Minister?”

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow has ruled himself out of appearing on the show after initially agreeing to take part. A spokesperson for Nicola Sturgeon said no Scottish Government ministers will take part.

The Alex Salmond Show is broadcast today on RT at 7.30 am, 6.30pm and 11.30pm on the Sky platform 512, Freeview 113