Two ageing movie stars with famously close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin are taking radically different approaches to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
While Steven Seagal celebrated his 70th birthday at a trendy restaurant in Moscow on Sunday, Gérard Depardieu has been subjected to calls from Russians to have his citizenship in the country revoked after criticizing Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
“You are my family and my friends,” American action hero Seagal toasted his guests which included some of Putin’s inner circle such as Margarita Simonian, head of the Russia Today television channel banned in the European Union, and Vladimir Soloviev, Russia’s number one propagandist.
“We are together for better or for worse,” said Seagal, who has long had a close relationship with the Russian president, and was awarded Russian citizenship in 2016. He did not break up with him even after Russia attacked Ukraine, claiming that external forces had pitted the two countries against one another.
The Kremlin and the Russian state media have long sought to highlight Putin’s friendship with Western celebrities like Seagal. However, many Western stars and politicians are already trying to distance themselves from the Russian president.
Gérard Depardieu, who personally obtained citizenship from Putin in 2013 after criticizing French tax policy, now condemns the Russian president’s “crazy fallacy.” His words were angrily received by the Russian leadership, with some calling for Putin to revoke his citizenship.