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Gerard Depardieu Slams Pussy Riot, Opposition in Russian TV Interview

Gerard Depardieu Russia – H 2013

"If these girls had entered a mosque, they wouldn't have come out alive," says the actor as a poll shows that a majority of people in France are critical of him.

In his first major interview on Russian TV since being granted Russian citizenship, Gerard Depardieu criticized the country's opposition and female punk band Pussy Riot.

“The Russian opposition has no program, nothing,” the French actor, who has expressed his admiration for Russian president Vladimir Putin, told a news show on the state-run channel Rossiya 24 late Sunday. “There are some very smart people, like [World Chess Champion Garry] Kasparov, but that is only good for chess. That’s it. But politics is a lot more complicated.”

He also went on to criticize Pussy Riot and defend Russian authorities' decision to put two of the band's members into prison for two years following an anti-Putin protest stunt last year.

“The French love to criticize,” Depardieu said on the Russian TV show. “Take, for instance, the Pussy Riot story. Imagine if these girls entered, for example, a mosque. They wouldn’t have come out alive. Even in a Catholic world that would have been scary. But when I say things like that in France, they think I am an idiot.”
 
Meanwhile, Depardieu, once considered France’s most beloved actor and a pillar of the country's cinema society, has seen his standing with the public hurt by the controversial move to accept Russian citizenship after a public spat with the government of French President Francois Hollande over taxes.
 
In a poll conducted by Harris Interactive for Vivendi pay TV network Canal Plus, 63 percent of respondents said that Depardieu was "wrong" to accept a Russian passport, and 57 percent now have a “poor” or “very bad” view of the Oscar-nominated actor. Younger respondents were more severe in their position, with 76 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds believing it was wrong, while only 56 percent among those over 65 agreed.
 
Depardieu may be facing backlash, but it might not affect his box office. Pollsters also asked if the new negative opinions would deter respondents from attending a Depardieu film. A majority (56 percent) said it wouldn’t change their viewing habits, while just less than one-third (32 percent) said they would not want to see a Depardieu film after his anti-tax antics.
 
His next film is Turf, an ensemble horse racing comedy, to be released on Feb. 13 in France.

After a sparring match in the press with government officials and other actors over a planned 75 percent income tax on top earners in France resulted in a public vow to give up his French citizenship, Depardieu was issued a passport via personal decree from Putin on Jan. 3. Depardieu quickly accepted, calling Russia “a great democracy.”

He was shown on television in Russia and France proudly waving his new document and wearing traditional Russian clothing.

Depardieu then appeared at an event for soccer organization FIFA in Switzerland and missed a mandatory hearing in Paris stemming from a drunk driving charge, turning up in Montenegro to discuss starring in a new film about disgraced French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

The poll was taken on Jan. 8 and Jan. 9 and asked 1,151 people over the age of 18.