Gerard Depardieu Calls Russia 'A Great Democracy,' Says He Loves Vladimir Putin
UPDATED: The French actor, who has been granted Russian citizenship, also criticizes the media, including in France, arguing that there is "too often a single thought" in the press.
French actor Gerard Depardieu in a letter late Thursday not only welcomed a decision by Russian President Vladimir Putin to grant him citizenship, but also lauded the political leader and the country's political system.
French newspaper Le Monde on Friday printed the star's complete letter, including comments on the state of Russia's democracy and press.
In a comment that drew criticism from Russian political activists on Twitter, Depardieu said that "Russia was a great democracy, and that it was not a country where the Prime Minister would call a citizen “pathetic".” That was a reference to the French Prime Minister who had criticized Depardieu as part of a battle over a proposed tax increase.
"I love your President Vladimir Putin, and the feeling is mutual," Depardieu also said in his letter.
But he expressed mixed views about the press, particularly in France, and the diversity of opinions it provides. "I like the press, but it is also very annoying because there is too often a single thought," the actor said.
Here is Depardieu's letter as printed by Le Monde:
"Yes, I made a request for this passport and I am pleased that it has been accepted. I love your country Russia, its people, its history, its writers. I like to make films here, where I can work with actors such as Vladimir Mashkov.
I love your culture, your intelligence. My father was a communist, listening to Radio Moscow! This is also my culture.
In Russia, there is a good life. Not necessarily in Moscow, which is too big a metropolis for me. I prefer the countryside, and I know wonderful places in Russia. For example, there is a place that I love, where my friend Nikolai Borodachev, who leads Gosfilmofond, is. There, in the birch forests, I feel good. And I will learn Russian.
I even talked to my President, Francois Hollande. I told him all this. He knows that I love your President Vladimir Putin, and the feeling is mutual. And I told him that Russia was a great democracy, and that it was not a country where the Prime Minister would call a citizen “pathetic.”
I like the press, but it is also very annoying because there is too often a single thought. Out of respect for your President and your great country, I have nothing to add.
If I want to say anything about Russia, prose comes to mind ... That in a country so large one is never alone, for in every tree, in every landscape we have hope. There is no meanness in Russia, no, there are only great feelings. Behind these feelings is modesty. In your immensity, I never feel alone.”
Slava Rossii! (Glory to Russia!) Spasibo! (Thank you!)."
Rhonda Richford in Paris contributed to this report.