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RUSSIA

Depardieu in ‘Proud to be Russian’ ad campaign

French actor Gérard Depardieu, who famously quit France in a huff over high taxes, has risked the wrath of the French president again by featuring in a luxury Swiss watch advertising campaign, which bears the slogan "Proud to be Russian".

French actor Gérard Depardieu certainly knows how to antagonize the French president.

While major world powers including France announced on Tuesday that Russia was suspended from the G8 economic group over its seizure of Crimea, French actor Gérard Depardieu was showing no similar disapproval.

He is featured in an ad campaign for high-end Swiss watchmaker Cvstos sporting a timepiece with the Russian state seal emblazoned on its face. The photo posted to the company's Facebook page on March 7th carries the caption: “Proud to be Russian”.

The actor has held Russian citizenship since January 2013 when President Vladimir Putin personally bestowed it during Depardieu’s bitter feud with François Hollande’s government over its policies and taxes.

Since then the “Cyrano de Bergerac” and “Green Card” star has been very vocal about his love of Russia and wrote a gushing letter to Russian TV station Channel One.

“I adore your country, Russia, your people, your history and your writers,” Depardieu wrote, according to the New York Times. “I love your president, Vladimir Putin, very much and it’s mutual.”

World leaders have been not been as friendly recently toward Putin, who has come under international condemnation for annexing the Crimea region of Ukraine.

Russia now faces economic sanctions and on Tuesday world leaders said they won't attend G8 economic summit talks that were set for June in Russia.

Depardieu has seen no such tumble in his career. His new film “Welcome to New York”, in which he plays fallen French leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn is due out soon.

SEE ALSO: Depardieu skips court to shoot DSK movie

 

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RUSSIA

Senior French officer held on suspicion of spying for Russia

A senior French military officer stationed at a NATO base has been indicted and jailed on suspicion of spying for Russia, local media and sources said on Sunday.

Senior French officer held on suspicion of spying for Russia
A change of command ceremony at the base of NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance Force in Sigonella, Italy. It is not known at which Italian Nato base the officer was stationed. Photo: Falk Plankenhorn
The French army officer was stationed abroad, a judicial source said confirming details from Europe 1 radio. According to the report, the soldier was stationed on a NATO base in Italy and is suspected of espionage on behalf of Russia.
   
The French government confirmed it was investigating a senior military officer over a “security breach”.
   
“What I can confirm is that a senior officer is facing legal proceedings for a security breach,” Defence Minister Florence Parly told Europe 1 radio, CNews and Les Echos newspaper. She gave no further details.
   
The judicial source said the officer had been indicted and jailed on charges involving “intelligence with a foreign power that undermines the fundamental interests of the nation”.
   
He is being prosecuted for “delivering information to a foreign power”, “collecting information harming the fundamental interests of the nation with a view to delivering them to a foreign power” and “compromising the secrecy of national defence”, the source said.
 
   
Europe 1 said the officer was a lieutenant-colonel stationed with NATO in Italy and had been placed under investigation on suspicion of spying for Russia.
   
He speaks Russian and was seen in Italy with a man identified as an agent of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence
service, the report said. It said he is suspected of having supplied sensitive documents to Russian intelligence.
   
The man was arrested by DGSI intelligence service as he was about to leave for Italy at the end of his holidays in France, and is being held at a prison in Paris, Europe 1 said.
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