Gerard Depardieu Compares Vladimir Putin to Pope John Paul II

Gerard Depardieu, Vladimir Putin

The actor is currently in Moscow prepping a film set in the capital.

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.”  

STORY: Gerard Depardieu to Star in Two Films Set in Chechnya 

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.