With his co-star, British actress Liz Hurley, and director Philippe Martinez in tow, Depardieu faced journalists at a press conference in the Chechen capital, Grozny, on Wednesday to explain why he chose Chechnya to make a violent vengeance-themed movie.
"I followed everything that happened here and saw a city totally rebuilt and very sympathetic people," he said. "I saw more love and friendship than hate here."
But, perhaps also in the Putin-era spirit, anyone with questions about human rights abuses or the arbitrary one-man rule of Depardieu's "very close friend," pro-Moscow Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, was made to feel extremely unwelcome.
Asked by a journalist whether there were any parallels to be found in the fictional Depardieu's character's murderous revenge streak that culminates in Chechnya, and the real-life assassinations of Mr. Kadyrov's political foes that have been documented by human rights monitors, the film's director Mr. Martinez exploded in fury, according to the Independent.
"I have to tell you I’m a bit ashamed that you are asking that question," he is quoted as saying. "Gerard Depardieu and Elizabeth Hurley are making a movie in Chechnya! And you’re asking questions of a political nature! I don’t even want to answer."