Russian state television came out in defense of French actor Gerard Depardieu for accusations of rape and sexual assault, suggesting that the alleged victim is trying to blackmail him.
According to reports, Depardieu, a Russian naturalized citizen, is being investigated in France for accusations of rape and sexual assault against a 22-year-old French actress.
It is said that the alleged attack took place at his home in the 6th district of Paris earlier this month.
The 69-year-old star denies the accusations "absolutely", his lawyer told the AFP news agency on Thursday.
French actor Gerard Depardieu is a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin (photographed together in Sochi in 2013) and granted him Russian citizenship to avoid paying a millionaire tax in France
French actor Gerad Depardieu (photographed in Marseille, southern France, in February) has been accused of raping a 22-year-old actress in Paris
Depardieu (pictured above in Paris promoting the French film Sous le soleil de Satan, or Under Satan's Sun, in 1987) flatly denies the claims, according to his lawyer.
A piece from the Rossia 24 news channel that aired today asked "PR or crime? & # 39; and speculated why the anonymous woman filed charges weeks after the alleged incidents, which are said to have occurred on August 7 and 13.
The lawyer Vadim Lyalin was quoted in the news saying: "Who prevented you from doing this after the first time?
"The young woman was maybe trying to blackmail and, not having achieved what she wanted, decided that at least that way she would get public relations."
One of the most prolific actors in France, famous for films like Cyrano de Bergerac and Green Card, Depardieu gained Russian citizenship in 2013 to become a tax exile after his country imposed rate increases on the rich.
Russian President Vladimir Putin invited him to a dinner to introduce him to his new citizenship and Depardieu was later praised in an interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.
He later caused controversy again after hitting his country of origin, describing France as a place "populated by foreigners and imbeciles who make wine and smelly cheese".
Described as a controversial character and larger than life, Depardieu became the face of French cinema and won the best actor award at the Cannes film festival and was nominated for an Oscar.
Gerard Depardieu with his partner Clementine Igou at a premiere of the film in May 2007. He was granted Russian citizenship in 2013 to become a tax exile
The Russian reaction to the accusations against Depardieu echoes the country's responses to the sexual harassment charges of Harvey Weinstein.
President Vladimir Putin intervened in the Weinstein scandal this summer, and asked: "Why is this happening now, not 10 years ago when it supposedly took place? & # 39;
A source said the Paris prosecutor's office had opened a preliminary investigation into the allegations against Depardieu following a complaint filed Monday in southern Aix-en-Provence.
Herve Termime, Depardieu's lawyer, added: "I regret the public nature of this process which is a great detriment to Gerard Depardieu, whose innocence I am convinced he will be recognized," added his lawyer Herve Termime, asking for restraint everywhere.
Depardieu is the biggest international star in France and has made more than 180 films, but it has not been far from the controversy.
In 2014, he was accused of throwing water on the revelers under his Italian apartment after being disturbed by the noise.
And in 2011 he had to apologize for urinating in a bottle on a flight from Paris to Dublin after the crew told him he would have to wait at least 15 minutes until he could use the toilets on board.
The actor was fined in 2013 after falling off his motorcycle while driving drunk in Paris.
He did not appear at the hearing in which he was fined 4,000 euros and his license was suspended for six months.
Depardieu has never been afraid to strike a blow in the film industry, closing the Oscars in 2016, claiming that the industry was being "terrorized by the Americans."
The romantic story of the French actor has also been turbulent and he divorced his first wife, actress Elisabeth Guignot in 1996.
Depardieu then dated Carole Bouquet from 1997 to 2005. Ms. Bouquet is also a successful French actress who planted Melina Havelock in the 1981 James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only.