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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 Grozny’s airport on Sunday and posted photographs on his Instagram account of the two men sharing a meal with eight of Kadyrov’s children. The two men also danced the traditional Caucasian Lezginka.

Depardieu, saying he was inspired by Kadyrov’s 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 Depardieu’s first trip to Chechnya. In October, he came to Grozny for Kadyrov’s 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

Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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