French actor Gerard Depardieu, who has praised Vladimir Putin in the past, has now condemned the Russian President’s “crazy, unacceptable excesses” in Ukraine.
Depardieu, the star of movies including Green Card, The Last Metro and Cyrano de Bergerac, was given Russian citizenship in January 2013 after he abandoned his home country to avoid paying a 75% income tax rate.
The pair were pictured embracing after Mr Putin personally gave him his Russian passport at his home in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
But on Thursday, the actor, once France’s most famous leading man, said: “the Russian people are not responsible for the crazy, unacceptable excesses of their leaders like Vladimir Putin.”
He promised to give all the proceeds from three nights of concerts in Paris starting on Friday to “Ukrainian victims of this tragic fratricidal war”.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday the film star probably does not completely understand the situation and said Moscow was ready to explain the situation there to him.
The actor, described by Mr Putin as a friend, wrote a letter to Russian state television at the time, saying: “I love your president, Vladimir Putin, very much and it’s mutual,” the New York Times said.
The Russian President is known to enjoy the company of A-listers and has often been photographed with Steven Seagal among others.
He has also been pictured with Paul McCartney, Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio and Naomi Campbell.
In 2009 he was contacted by Baywatch star Pamela Anderson and intervened, at her request, to stop a shipload of whale meat passing through Russian waters, she has said.