Gerard Depardieu, the French actor who sought Russian citizenship nearly a decade ago to escape French taxes, has strongly criticized Russian leader Vladimir Putin for his decision to invade Ukraine.
“The Russian people are not responsible for the crazy, unacceptable excesses of their leaders like Vladimir Putin,” Depardieu, who has praised Putin in the past, told AFP on March 31
Depardieu, who gained international fame in films like Cyrano De Bergerac, Hamlet, and The Life Of Pi, obtained Russian citizenship in 2013 Putin after criticizing France high taxes. Putin himself an executive order expediting the citizenship process.
In comments made not long after gaining citizenship, Depardieu dismissed his critics, which included Russians: “The Russian opposition has no program; it has nothing.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded to Depardieu’s criticism of Putin, saying he “most likely does not fully understand what is happening.”
“If necessary, we will be ready to tell and explain him everything so that he understands. If he wants to,” Peskov said.
Days after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, the 72-year-old actor called for negotiations to stop the war.
In 2015, Ukraine blacklisted Depardieu and barred him from entering the country for five years for his public statements about Ukraine and Russia.
Media reports at the time quoted Depardieu as saying, “I love Russia and I love Ukraine, which is part of Russia.”