Gerard Depardieu defends Putin over punk protest controversy

The Green Card star is hoping to make Russia his home in an effort to avoid the French government’s plans to hike the taxes of their richest residents – and it appears he’s a big fan of Putin.

Singing the praises of the leader in an interview on Russian TV on Sunday (13Jan13), the actor took aim at those opposed to the President, including the members of punk band Pussy Riot, who were jailed for protesting against Putin in a Moscow church last year (12).

Depardieu said, “If these girls had entered a mosque, they wouldn’t have come out alive. Even in a Catholic world that would have been scary. But when I say things like that in France, they think I am an idiot.

“The Russian opposition has no programme, nothing… There are some very smart people, like (chess champion Garry) Kasparov, but that is only good for chess. That’s it. Politics is a lot more complicated.”

Two members of Pussy Riot are still serving time behind bars following their imprisonment last summer (12). Many celebrities, like Madonna and Sir Paul McCartney, have spoken out about the decision to jail the punk rockers.

Depardieu was issued a passport from Putin on 3 January (13) after going public with his plans to leave his native France.

Calling Russia “a great democracy”, the star appeared on TV last week (ends11Jan13) in traditional Russian dress waving his new passport.