Actor Depardieu hits dance floor in Russia's Chechnya

Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:43pm EST
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By Thomas Grove

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Arms flailing to the synthesized beat of a folk tune, film star Gerard Depardieu hit the dance floor in Chechnya and vowed to make a movie in the volatile region on the latest stop of an erratic tour of his new Russian homeland.

The actor, who quit France after criticizing a planned 75-percent tax on millionaires, embraced Chechnya's strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov during a weekend visit, then showed off traditional 'Lezginka' dance moves in television footage aired on Monday.

The trip came a month after Depardieu received a hug and a passport from President Vladimir Putin and heaped praise on the Russian leader - earning criticism from opposition and rights campaigners.

His visit to the Chechen capital, Grozny should prove equally divisive - human rights groups have accused security services in Chechnya of carrying out kidnappings, torture and extrajudicial killings to try to quash an Islamist insurgency.

Pro-Kremlin Kadyrov, who denies the accusations of abuses, has imposed an uneasy peace over the region, the scene of two separatist wars that killed more than 100,000 people in 1994-2000.

"I would really like to shoot a film here and show that it's possible to do that here in Grozny, shoot a great film," Depardieu, 64, told private broadcaster NTV.

"I can't reveal all the details now, but we'll come back here and this is only the beginning," added the star of "Cyrano de Bergerac" and "Green Card".

Depardieu first came to Chechnya to celebrate Kadyrov's birthday last year. When the actor was presented with his Russian passport, the Chechen leader invited Depardieu to live in the region.   Continued...

Actor Gerard Depardieu (R) poses for a picture with Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov during a meeting at the presidential residence as he visits the capital of the Chechen Republic Grozny February 25, 2013. REUTERS/Rasul Yarichev