French actor Gerard Depardieu, who has previously praised Vladimir Putin, has now condemned the Russian president’s “crazy, unacceptable exaggerations” in Ukraine.
Depardieu, the star of films including Green Card, The Last Metro and Cyrano de Bergerac, received Russian citizenship in January 2013 after he left his home country to avoid paying an income tax of 75%.
The couple was pictured embracing after Mr. Putin personally gave him his Russian passport at his home in the seaside resort of Sochi on the Black Sea.
But on Thursday, the actor, once France’s most famous leading man, said “the Russian people are not responsible for the crazy, unacceptable exaggerations of their leaders like Vladimir Putin.”
He promised to donate all proceeds from three nights of concerts in Paris starting on Friday to “Ukrainian victims of this tragic fratricide war”.
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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday that the movie star probably did not fully understand the situation and said that Moscow was ready to explain the situation there to him.
The actor, whom Putin described as a friend, then wrote a letter to Russian state television saying, “I love your president, Vladimir Putin, very much and it is mutual,” the New York Times said.
The Russian president is known for enjoying the company of A-lists and has often been photographed with, among others, Steven Seagal.
He has also been pictured with Paul McCartney, Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio and Naomi Campbell.
In 2009, he was contacted by Baywatch star Pamela Anderson and intervened, at her request, to stop a load of whale meat passing through Russian waters, she said.