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Gerard Depardieu To Star In Two Chechnya-Based Films

Actor Gerard Depardieu is reportedly set to begin filming a new thriller with British actress-model Elizabeth Hurley, to be set in Moscow and Grozny, the capital of the Russian republic of Chechnya.

Depardieu accepted Russian citizenship in a special dispensation from President Vladimir Putin last January, after the actor denounced a proposed new tax on the rich in his native France. He was subsequently given a luxury apartment in the Chechen capital by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov.

Hurley broke the news on Twitter and has since been seen shopping in Moscow.

The film, to be called Turquoise, is said to be the first of two that Depardieu has signed on for.

Kadyrov's press secretary revealed that much when he denied rumors the actor will play Kadyrov's father, the late Chechen president Akhmad Kadyrov.

The second movie is said to have a Chechen theme, though, and to be about the reconstruction of Grozny after the two Chechen wars.

This isn't the first time that Kadyrov has cozied up to celebrities. For his 35th birthday party in 2011, he invited American actress Hilary Swank, Belgian martial-arts actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, violinist Vanessa Mae and singer Seal, both from Britain.

Human rights groups cried shame, pointing out that Kadyrov has been widely accused of gross human rights violations in quelling Chechnya's separatist rebellion. The charges include disappearances, assassinations of political opponents and torture.

Chechen officials later revealed that the celebrities had been paid to appear, and Swank said she "deeply regretted" having attended.

Depardieu appears to have no regrets about his association with Kadyrov, who has sent Instagrams of himself with an arm around the actor.

Kadyrov's press secretary says that Depardieu will give a news conference in Grozny next week, where he will reveal details of the movie plans.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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