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Depardieu Lands in Grozny

Published: February 27, 2013 (Issue # 1748)



  • Gerard Depardieu (r) hugs Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov (l) shortly after arriving in Chechnya on Sunday.
    Photo: MUSA SADULAYEV / AP

GROZNY French actor Gerard Depardieu said he was inspired by the leadership of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and accepted a five-room apartment from him during a visit to Grozny.

Kadyrov warmly greeted Depardieu on his arrival in Grozny on a flight from Saransk, where he got his Russian passport stamped Saturday with his new permanent address in Russia.

But Kadyrov also appeared to make an effort to convince the actor to consider settling down in Chechnya instead of the capital of the Mordovia republic.

I just handed Gerard Depardieu the documents to a five-room apartment and a certificate making him an honorary citizen of Chechnya, Kadyrov wrote next to a photo of him hugging the actor on Instagram on Monday.

Kadyrov, who is accused of widespread human rights abuses during his rule of the restive North Caucasus republic, met Depardieu at Groznys airport on Sunday and posted photographs on his Instagram account of the two men sharing a meal with eight of Kadyrovs children. The two men also danced the traditional Caucasian Lezginka.

Depardieu, saying he was inspired by Kadyrovs political leadership, promised to make a film about the rebuilding of Grozny following its destruction in two bloody separatist wars.

I want to explain how one man could build a city all over again in five years. I am sure that really happy people live here. To dance and sing like Chechens you have to be genuinely happy, Depardieu said in comments carried by Interfax.

The project will be an American-English-French-Russian collaboration called Heart of My Father, Kadyrov said on Instagram. It will be filmed in Grozny and feature local actors.

Depardieu has been involved in a public spat with the French government over proposals to raise taxes on the wealthy, and his presence in Russia comes ahead of an official visit by French Prime Minister Francois Hollande to Moscow on Wednesday. Putin personally handed Depardieu a Russian passport on Jan. 6.

This is not Depardieus first trip to Chechnya. In October, he came to Grozny for Kadyrovs 36th birthday, and Kadyrov has said publicly that Depardieu would be welcome to live in the region.

Before flying into Chechnya, the star of films such as Green Card and Cyrano de Bergerac visited the Bolshoi Theater with Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky on Friday and collected his registration papers in Saransk, a city 600 kilometers east of Moscow, on Saturday.

While critics claim that Depardieu is being manipulated by the Kremlin, the actor has insisted he will spend significant amounts of time in his new homeland.

A film about Grozny is not the only cultural project to which Depardieu is committed. The actor said last week that he wanted to make a series of television programs based on Russian literature, and featuring actors from around the world.

Depardieu himself recently starred in a $7.9 million film about the Russian monk Rasputin, who was said to have wielded hypnotic power over Tsar Nicholas II and the imperial family. The joint French-Russian film premiered last year and is due to become available to Russian audiences in the fall.





 

ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Sept. 3


Although the Peter and Paul Fortress sand sculptures are more central and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today. The World Collection of Sand Sculptures that have been on display at the park reaches its final day, so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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