Russian media have quoted a friend as saying Gerard Depardieu is closing his PTS ZhD film production center in Russia, where the controversial French actor maintained friendly ties to President Vladimir Putin for over a decade and obtained citizenship in 2013.
TASS news agency quoted the acquaintance, artist and producer Arnaud Frilli, as saying the move was unrelated to the situation around Russia's ongoing eight-month-old invasion of Ukraine.
He suggested the move was a result of excessive downtime that rendered the audiovisual facility "useless" and expensive to maintain.
There was no initial confirmation from Depardieu, who sought Russian citizenship over a decade ago to escape French taxes.
In March, Depardieu harshly criticized Putin's decision to order tens of thousands of Russian troops into Ukraine in an unprovoked all-out invasion that has met with stiff Ukrainian resistance with considerable international support.
Putin signed the 2013 executive order granting Russian citizenship to Depardieu, who gained international fame in films like Cyrano de Bergerac, Hamlet, and The Life of Pi, in addition to countless French-language movies.
In comments made not long after gaining citizenship, Depardieu dismissed his critics, which included Russians, by saying, "The Russian opposition has no program; it has nothing."
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded to Depardieu’s criticism of Putin, saying he "most likely does not fully understand what is happening."
In 2015, Ukraine blacklisted Depardieu and barred him from entering the country for five years for his public statements about Ukraine and Russia, RFE/RL reports.
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