Once France's biggest movie star, Depardieu has been granted Russian citizenship after ditching France in protest of high income taxes on the rich. He's popular among less-than-democratic rulers.
He collaborates on projects with the daughter of Uzbekistan's dictator.
Depardieu recorded a song with Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of Uzbekistan's iron-fisted longtime president Islam Karimov. Karimova, who is launching a pop career as “Googoosha,” is being linked to a telecommunications fraud and corruption scandal currently under investigation by Swiss and Swedish authorities. Depardieu also agreed to play the role of a Byzantine emperor in a television series to be directed by Karimova.
He's gone to Chechnya to publicly support the Chechen president.
He's a big fan of the Chechen president, Ramzan Kadyrov, who's been accused of numerous human rights abuses. He attended Chechnya's annual celebration in Grozny in October and yelled “Glory to Kadyrov!” in Russian. Even before Putin officially granted him citizenship, there was speculation that Depardieu might settle down in Chechnya.
He bonded with Fidel Castro over pâté.
Vladimir Putin personally decreed his Russian citizenship.
Putin, who is not exactly a dictator, signed a decree giving Depardieu Russian citizenship even after Depardieu has purchased a home in Belgium where he still plans to live. Depardieu has appeared in Russian television commercials in the past and Putin seems to call him by his first name. According to Le Monde, Depardieu boasted to his friends that he would be welcomed in Belgium, Montenegro, and Russia, and that Putin had “already sent his passport.”
Image by Alexei Nikolsky / AP
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