Gerard Depardieu Compares Vladimir Putin to Pope John Paul II
MOSCOW -- Newly-minted Russian citizen Gerard Depardieu has compared President Vladimir Putin to a Pope.
Depardieu, whom Putin presented with a Russian passport in January, said “for me, he is like (former French president) Francois Mitterand or Pope John Paul II.”
The French actor's praise for Putin came in an interview published in mass-circulation Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda.
"I will say what I think about Putin: The Russian nation needs a person just like this -- with a Russian temper. Putin is trying to return just a bit of dignity back to the people,” Depardieu said.
The 64-year-old actor made the decision to seek Russian citizenship after France's socialist president Francois Hollande raised tax rates for the rich to 75 percent -- compared with Russia's 13 percent flat rate of personal tax. In the new interview, the actor denied the move was a PR stunt.
“That is just laughable," he said. "I have more that 200 films. Who needs PR after that?"
Depardieu is currently in Moscow prepping a film set in the Russian capital and Grozny, capital of troubled Caucasus region of Chechnya.