What’s the story
Serbian-Russian actor-producer Miloš Biković has been dropped from the third season of HBO‘s The White Lotus, reported Deadline.
This decision came after Ukraine‘s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) questioned the network’s choice to work with someone who allegedly “supports genocide and violates international law.”
In the third installment, Biković was set to play Russian Valentin: a charming yogi and a life enhancement mentor at a Thailand hotel.
Now, HBO has confirmed that the role will be recast.
Why does this story matter?
After the Russia-Ukraine crisis began in February 2022, Biković reportedly shared a poll showing higher trust in Russian President Vladimir Putin than American President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Biković has worked in Russia for over 10 years and is one of its most popular actors.
Notably, in 2021, the 36-year-old actor received Russian citizenship through a decree signed by President Putin, who also awarded him a Pushkin medal (a prize for advancing Russian culture) in 2018.
When Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs raised concerns
On January 24, Ukraine’s MFA shared a video featuring Biković’s public comments, asking HBO, “Is it all right for you to work with a person who supports genocide & violates international law?”
The video shows clips of Biković’s interviews where he seems to support Russia’s occupation of Crimea.
For context, in 2014, Russia took control of the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine, formally making Crimea a part of its own country.
Notably, in 2019, Ukraine placed Biković on a no-entry list.
Here’s the post by MFA
‘Reasons beyond the realm of art’: Biković on exit
After being removed from the show, Biković stated, “I was honored to be chosen to be a part of White Lotus, a TV series that I hold in high regard and with colleagues whom I deeply respect.”
“However, my participation is not possible due to reasons beyond the realm of art and I will not bow to any narrative that seeks to compromise my integrity,” he added.
Biković also called the situation a “targeted campaign” against him, impacting artistic freedom.
Biković’s ties with Russia and its entertainment industry
Biković stated in a 2021 Instagram post that he is an “active member of Russian society.”
He has also collaborated with well-known figures in the Russian entertainment industry who supported the invasion, including director Nikita Mikhalkov on the 2014 movie Sunstroke.
Last month, Biković was announced to star in The White Lotus, which will take place in Thailand and feature new hotel guests.
Other cast additions included Patrick Schwarzenegger, Christian Friedel, Morgana O’Reilly, Lek Patravadi, and Shalini Peiris.