French Actor Depardieu Holidays With Ukraine's 'Orange Revolution' Leader

KIEV, Ukraine -- French actor Gerard Depardieu arrived in Ukraine to celebrate Orthodox Christmas with the former Soviet republic's President Viktor Yushchenko in a state palace in the Carpathian mountains.


French actor Gerard Depardieu (R) arrived in Ukraine to celebrate Orthodox Christmas with the former Soviet republic's President Viktor Yushchenko in a state palace in the Carpathian mountains.

"I hold in high respect the president (Yushchenko) and love dearly Ukraine," he said upon his arrival in the country, according to pictures transmitted on local television.

Depardieu, who shot to international fame in the 1980s and 1990s with hits such as "Jean de Florette" and "Cyrano de Bergerac," has previously made an advert for a telecoms company in Ukraine and owns vineyards here.

He was invited to the country by Yushchenko and his wife Kateryna.

He said last July that he liked Ukraine "because (French novelist Honore de) Balzac was in love with a Ukrainian princess," and that he admires Yushchenko, the hero of the "orange revolution."

Two years ago, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians camped out in the cold of central Kiev to protest against the rigging of presidential elections.

The uprising, dubbed the orange revolution, brought in a government headed by Yushchenko and appeared to mark Ukraine's decisive turn toward democracy and the West.

Depardieu was expected to stay in Ukraine's western Ivano-Frankivsk region, to where he flew Friday, till early next week, Interfax news agency said.

Orthodox Christmas, which is observed in Russia, Ukraine, Serbia and other countries, is celebrated on January 7, which corresponds to December 25 in the old Julian Calendar.

Source: AFP

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