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Depardieu Holds Forth on Russian Politics

Published: January 16, 2013 (Issue # 1742)



  • Actor Gerard Depardieu fills an advert on the side of a bus in St. Petersburg.
    Photo: DMITRY LOVETSKY / AP

Actor andnewly minted Russian citizen Gerard Depardieu belittled thecountrys opposition as disoriented andattacked foreign critics ofthe prosecution ofthe punk band Pussy Riot.

The Russian opposition has no program, nothing, he said inan interview Sunday night onstate television channel Rossia 1.

He added that having very intelligent leaders like former chess champion Garry Kasparov was not enough. Politics is alittle more complicated, he said.

Depardieus comments came just 10 days after President Vladimir Putin gave him aRussian passport inthe head ofstates Sochi residence.

Depardieu followed up themuch-publicized meeting with atrip toMordovia, aFinno-Ugric region onthe Volga River, where he was elevated tosomething ofa national icon.

State television feted theactors visit, showing footage ofhim putting ona local ethnic costume andshowing off his new passport during apublic reception inSaransk, theregional capital.

Theactor was reportedly offered anapartment as his official residence inMordovia, but he declined anoffer tobecome therepublics culture minister, saying he is already the worlds culture minister, Russian News Service Radio reported, quoting State Film Fund (Gosfilmofond) director Nikolai Borodachyov.

Depardieu was subsequently offered thetitle ofhonorary Udmurt byactivists inUdmurtia, another Finnic-speaking region. ACommunist State Duma deputy asked him tojoin theCommunist Party, anda theater inthe Siberian city ofTyumen offered him ajob, albeit fora humble 16,000 rubles ($527) per month.

InSundays interview, he used last years Pussy Riot performance inMoscows Christ theSavior Cathedral tolambaste recent French criticism ofRussia as baseless.

He said that if band members had performed ina mosque, they would not have come out alive, andhe added that their behavior would have caused outrage even inthe Catholic world. Similar arguments have been made byPutin inthe past.

If I say such things inFrance, Im labeled anidiot, he said.

However, Depardieus decision toaccept Russian citizenship elicited heaps ofmockery andcriticism both inside andoutside thecountry.

OnSaturdays episode ofOn Nest Pas Couché, apopular late-night show onFrench television, actor Jonathan Lambert staggers onstage pretending tobe Yury Depardioff, who speaks with aheavy Russian accent.

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