French Actor Pierre Richard Cancels Crimea Theater Gig, Promoter Cites Ukraine Pressure

Pierre Richard - H 2016
Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images

He was scheduled to present his experimental play 'Pierre Richard III' in two Crimean cities.

French actor Pierre Richard has canceled the scheduled performances of his play Pierre Richard III in the Crimea peninsular region, annexed by Russia from Ukraine two years ago, local promoters have announced.

Richard did not provide any explanation for the cancelation, though the promoters said there were threats against the comedian from Ukraine and local authorities suggested that Ukraine put pressure on him not to go to Crimea.

"[The cancelation] was primarily caused by hard and aggressive pressure from Ukraine," the show's Crimean promoter was quoted as saying by Russian news agency RIA Novosti. "There were even threats to his life and health."

"People chose money, they just had financial considerations," added Crimea's deputy prime minister Dmitry Polonsky, referring to Richard and Italian singer Alessandro Safina, who also recently canceled his Crimean dates. Ukraine's Culture Ministry was understood to have told the singer that he would be banned from touring Ukraine if he refused to call off his dates in Crimea.

Richard was set to perform Pierre Richard III, an experimental play that includes audience participation, in Simferopol and Sevastopol in mid-February. Performances of the play scheduled for Moscow on Feb. 4 and Feb. 7 are set to run as scheduled.

U.S. companies are prevented from operating in Crimea, and European countries also have slapped sanctions on the region.

Since the annexation of Crimea, local authorities have been trying to attract Western showbiz and sports celebrities to the area, even promising to build a "local Beverly Hills."

Limp Bizkit singer Fred Durst was among the few Western celebrities who expressed interest in spending several months in Crimea every year, working on film and music projects there. His statements led to a ban on entering Ukraine.