Ukraine Crisis: Russian actor Artur Smolyaninov, who was once one of President Vladimir Putin’s favorite film stars, has now been deemed a “foreign agent” and is facing a criminal investigation. Smolyaninov was the hero of ‘Devyatya Rota’ (9th Company) a 2005 Russian feature film. He played the role of the last soldier standing during a battle in Afghanistan (which was occupied by Soviet forces for a decade). He was often called the ‘Rambo of Russia’. Let us tell you that Rambo is the name of a film series by Hollywood actor Sylvester Stallone.
Although now a lot has changed. Smolyaninov is in exile and in a recent interview he said that he is ready to fight on the side of Ukraine and kill Russian soldiers. He told Novaya Gazeta last week, ‘I feel nothing but hatred for the people on the other (Russian) side of the frontline. And if I were there on the ground, there would be no mercy.’
‘I will fight only for Ukraine’
Smolyaninov said that a former colleague of his went to fight on the Russian side. He said, ‘Shall I shoot him? Of course! Have I kept my options open to fight on the side of Ukraine? Absolutely! This is the only way for me. And if I had to go to this war, I would fight only for Ukraine.
Days after the interview, the Russian Ministry of Justice classified the actor as a foreign agent. The head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, also ordered that a criminal case be opened against Smolyaninov.
Smolyaninov has been a strong critic of the Russian campaign in Ukraine. He spoke out against the war for the first time last summer. Smolyaninov, who was in Russia at the time, told an interviewer that it was ‘a catastrophe, everything collapsed: ashes, smoke, stench, tears.’
Smolininov was fined
Last October, the Moscow District Court imposed a fine of 30,000 rubles (US$430) against Smolyaninov on charges of defaming the Russian armed forces. In the same month, he left Russia and is currently believed to be in Latvia.
Smolininov told how he crossed the Russian border and entered Norway. He said, ‘I crossed the border on foot… You just walk 30 meters and there are completely different people in front of you. They are very soft. Even the look is different.
Putin’s favorite movie
The film “Devyatya Rota” was so popular that Putin welcomed the cast and crew, including Smolyaninov, to his residence outside Moscow in November 2005, where he held a special showing of the film.
The Kremlin said that after seeing the film, Putin spoke with director Fyodor Bondarchuk and the leading actors, including Smolyaninov. Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported at the time that Putin declared that the film ‘takes to the soul, you immerse yourself in the film.’
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