Gérard Depardieu has said that Chechnya was not to blame for the Boston bombings because the suspects were brought up in America.
The actor, who renounced his French citizen, has been pictured laughing and joking with Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, who is accused of human rights abuses.
He was speaking in the southern Russian province of Chechnya, where he is shooting a movie with the British actress, Elizabeth Hurley called "Turquoise."
Reuters reported him as saying:
"I was in the United States when the terrorist act was carried out in Boston. I agree with Ramzan Kadyrov who said that the Tsarnaev brothers have a Chechen last name but their upbringing is American. You [Chechens] don't carry any responsibility."
Depardieu accepted Russian citizenship this year after leaving France to avoid President Francois Hollande's 75 percent tax on millionaires.
According to The New York Times, he has declared the city of Saransk, about 370 miles east of Moscow in the Mordovia region, as his new home.
However, he held his news conference on Tuesday in Grozny, the Chechen capital, where he reportedly has an expensive apartment given to him by Kadyrov, Chechnya's president.
Kadyrov, who is supported by the Kremlin, has been criticized for his strong-handed tactics in the North Caucasus, where Islamist insurgents are locked in a violent struggle to create an Islamic state.
US investigators are looking into links between suspected bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, killed in a gun battle with Massachusetts police, and extremists from the mountainous Russian region.
Tsarnaev and his younger brother are accused of blasts that killed three people and injured 264 others at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
Depardieu noted Chechnya’s violent reputation, at one point telling Nikolaus von Twickel, a journalist for German agency DPA:
"You see, it’s ok. They don’t kill you."
One comment on her Instagram picture, which shows the three smiling and Hurley showing Kadyrov her phone, reads:
"He's a war criminal who endorses honor killings and has tortured and killed those that oppose him." thomasdholland
In his role in "Turquoise, to be shot in the Russian North Caucasus region, Depardieu will take on the role of a Chechen man who seeks revenge for the killing of his son.
The drama will be directed by French film maker Philippe Martinez.