Ukraine bans Putin buddy Depardieu for five years
Ukraine said Tuesday it had blacklisted French film star and newly minted Russian national Gerard Depardieu in apparent retribution for reportedly refusing to recognise the independence of the former Soviet state.
A spokeswoman for the National Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said the 66-year-old actor was this week barred from entering the country for five years.
She refused to be drawn on the reason for the decision.
But Ukraine's culture ministry had previously identified Depardieu and other Russia-friendly international film stars as national security threats whose movies should be banned.
Depardieu first outraged Kiev's new pro-Western leaders by striking up a close friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and once reportedly even denying the very existence of an independent Ukraine.
"I love Russia and Ukraine, which is part of Russia," the actor was widely quoted as telling a film festival in the Latvian capital Riga last year.
Depardieu never denied making the comments or enjoying warm relations with Putin, who backed the rule of a corruption-tainted Ukrainian president ousted by pro-European protests last year.
The acclaimed but controversial French actor left Paris in protest over a proposed tax on the super-rich and was handed a Russian passport by Putin in January 2013.
Depardieu's movies have been popular for decades throughout the ex-Soviet nations and he remains a household name in Ukraine, despite his recent wane in popularity in the West.
© 2015 AFP