Depardieu Holds Forth on Russian Politics
Published: January 16, 2013 (Issue # 1742)
Actor and newly minted Russian citizen Gerard Depardieu belittled the country’s opposition as disoriented and attacked foreign critics of the prosecution of the punk band Pussy Riot.
“The Russian opposition has no program, nothing,” he said in an interview Sunday night on state television channel Rossia 1.
He added that having very intelligent leaders like former chess champion Garry Kasparov was not enough. “Politics is a little more complicated,” he said.
Depardieu’s comments came just 10 days after President Vladimir Putin gave him a Russian passport in the head of state’s Sochi residence.
Depardieu followed up the much-publicized meeting with a trip to Mordovia, a Finno-Ugric region on the Volga River, where he was elevated to something of a national icon.
State television feted the actor’s visit, showing footage of him putting on a local ethnic costume and showing off his new passport during a public reception in Saransk, the regional capital.
The actor was reportedly offered an apartment as his official residence in Mordovia, but he declined an offer to become the republic’s culture minister, saying he is already “the world’s culture minister,” Russian News Service Radio reported, quoting State Film Fund (Gosfilmofond) director Nikolai Borodachyov.
Depardieu was subsequently offered the title of honorary Udmurt by activists in Udmurtia, another Finnic-speaking region. A Communist State Duma deputy asked him to join the Communist Party, and a theater in the Siberian city of Tyumen offered him a job, albeit for a humble 16,000 rubles ($527) per month.
In Sunday’s interview, he used last year’s Pussy Riot performance in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral to lambaste recent French criticism of Russia as baseless.
He said that if band members had performed in a mosque, “they would not have come out alive,” and he added that their behavior would have caused outrage even in the Catholic world. Similar arguments have been made by Putin in the past.
“If I say such things in France, I’m labeled an idiot,” he said.
However, Depardieu’s decision to accept Russian citizenship elicited heaps of mockery and criticism both inside and outside the country.
On Saturday’s episode of “On N’est Pas Couché,” a popular late-night show on French television, actor Jonathan Lambert staggers on stage pretending to be Yury Depardioff, who speaks with a heavy Russian accent.
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