Gerard Depardieu Converts to Orthodox Christianity

French actor and naturalized Russian citizen Gerard Depardieu has continued his religious journey by converting to Orthodox Christianity, the Valeurs Actuelles weekly news magazine reported Saturday.

One of France’s most prolific actors and a popular figure in Russia, Depardieu was granted Russian citizenship in 2013 as he sought to avoid tax hikes in his native country. President Vladimir Putin personally presented Depardieu with his Russian passport at a meeting in the southern Russian resort city of Sochi.

Depardieu, 71, said his spiritual adviser is Putin’s rumored confessor, Father Tikhon Shevkunov, according to Valeurs Actuelles, which said its reporters attended the actor’s baptism in Paris.

The conversion ceremony was reported to have taken place at a Russian Orthodox church in the French capital, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

“Under the solemn chants of the choir and the prayers of the officiants, Gérard Depardieu had his body and head sprayed abundantly with water, failing however to be fully submerged, as is the custom,” Valeurs Actuelles reported.

Depardieu said he was driven to convert by his “links” with the Orthodox clergy and taste for “Orthodox liturgy.”

Valeurs Actuelles reported that Depardieu was surrounded by a small circle of around 30 people.

The outlet said the actor expressed wishes to convert to Judaism “soon,” citing its “proximity” to Islam, which Depardieu converted to in 1967. He has since converted to Buddhism and Hinduism, Valeurs Actuelles reported.

Italy Probes Russian Glamour Model’s Death Near NATO Base

Italian prosecutors are probing the mysterious drowning of a Russian glamour model while on a photo shoot near a major NATO base on Sardinia over the weekend.

Coast guards found the naked body of Galina Fedorova, 35, on Saturday after she and a photographer reportedly went for a swim off the Italian island’s southern coastline near Teulada.

“The investigation is continuing and according to a very preliminary report the young woman drowned,” Enrico Lussu, deputy prosecutor based in the Sardinian capital Cagliari told AFP on Thursday.

Fedorova, who has posed as a Playboy centrefold model and regularly graced the covers of mens’ magazines, apparently wanted to cool off in the Mediterranean, Italian news reports said.

Her companion, named by local papers as British-Russian photographer Gerenius Tavarov, said the pair landed in trouble when the current separated them from their inflatable boat.

They first tried to swim ashore, local daily L’Unione Sarda said, but then Fedorova turned back to the inflatable without success.

Lussu said after Fedorova’s body was recovered police also confiscated the contents of the dinghy, which included cameras, mobile phones, a computer and a drone.

“We’re analyzing the contents, which have been copied from the devices, before handing them back to their owner,” Lussu told AFP.

There were also a number of bottles of strong alcoholic drinks, he said.

Prosecutors decided to look deeper into the case as Fedorova drowned close to one of Italy’s largest military bases on the Teulada coastline, the daily Corriere Della Sera reported.

Active since 1956, the base is used by NATO for war games and live firing exercises and is usually off-limits to the public.

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