Scythe matters: Depardieu gets mowing tips from Belarus strongman

23rd July 2015, Comments 0 comments

French star Gerard Depardieu is no stranger to unusual roles and controversy.

But even hardened Depardieu-watchers may be taken aback by his latest visual foray -- scything a field with authoritarian Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Video and pictures released by Belarus on Wednesday showed a burly Lukashenko -- sporting track pants, a T-shirt and a baseball cap in Belarussian national colours -- giving an even bulkier Depardieu a lesson in hand-scything at his estate outside Minsk.

The Belarussian presidential office said the two sexagenarians used the encounter to discuss agriculture and the farming of organic food, among other topics.

"You have beautiful women, good milk and good meat. This is what a little bull like me needs," the 66-year-old French actor was quoted as saying by Belarussian media.

"I see that people here are happy, calm and that the country must be pleasant to live in," he said on a separate visit to a dairy farm.

Depardieu travelled to Belarus with the producer of an upcoming film about the French Normandie-Niemen air regiment, which fought on the eastern front in World War II, local media reported.

France, Belarus and Russia are expected to work together on the project.

The larger-than-life star has long delighted in scandalising his compatriots.

In 2013, Depardieu was granted Russian citizenship by President Vladimir Putin after he expressed his anger over new French tax laws.

Depardieu, who has appeared in a Russian sitcom and television advertisements, reportedly filed his taxes last year out of Russia's remote Mordovia region.

The actor has been a staunch defender of the Kremlin's policies, recently sparking the anger of the Ukrainian government, which is fighting pro-Moscow rebels in the country's east.

The controversial actor announced last year he was planning to open restaurants in three Russian cities.

Lukashenko, who is expected to run for re-election in October, has ruled Belarus since 1994.

Lukashenko's government routinely faces international criticism over its rights record, with Belarus remaining the only country in Europe to exercise the death penalty.

© 2015 AFP

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