Ukraine criticizes White Lotus maker HBO for casting pro Putin actor

Ukraine criticizes White Lotus maker HBO for casting pro-Putin actor Milos Bikovic, who received a Medal of Honor from the Russian leader and supported his bloody war: “Dear HBO, do you really support genocide?”

Ukraine has sharply criticized HBO for casting a pro-Putin actor who was personally awarded a Medal of Honor by the despot for his contributions to the arts, and has consistently supported its invasive actions against Ukraine and Crimea.

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry brazenly criticized HBO for its decision to cast Serbian actor Miloš Biković in the upcoming third season of its hit series “The White Lotus,” asking the broadcaster: “Dear HBO, do you really support genocide?”

The ministry released a video showing 36-year-old Biković shaking hands with Vladimir Putin at a ceremony where he was presented with a top cultural award.

In 2018, he was presented with the Pushkin Medal, awarded to both Russian citizens and foreigners for achievements in the fields of art and culture, education, humanities and literature, at a ceremony in the Kremlin, and in 2021 he received Russian citizenship .

Biković, a dual citizen of Serbia and Russia, said at the time: “It is a great honor for me to be able to say today: Russia is my home.”

He added that he was “an active member of Russian society.”

The ministry released a video showing 36-year-old Biković (pictured right) shaking hands with Vladimir Putin (pictured left) at a ceremony where he was presented with a top cultural award

His role in White Lotus will be his first in a western production

His role in White Lotus will be his first in a western production

A graduate of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts at the University of the Arts in Belgrade, Serbia, Biković has appeared almost exclusively in dozens of Russian or Serbian television, film and theater productions over the course of his 20-year career.

His role in The White Lotus, created, written and directed by Mike White and executive produced by White, David Bernad and Mark Kamine, will be Biković's first role in a Western production.

He is represented by Chris Prapha and Deanna Russo Clark at Artist International Group and Marina Leonova at SV Casting in Russia.

AFP reported that Biković claimed in 2019 that he had been banned from entering Ukraine on national security grounds. Ukraine claims it supports Russia's invasion of Ukraine and said he filmed television shows in Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Putin's forces in 2014.

In a resurfaced clip, Biković was seen telling a reporter that he supported annexation. In response to a general question about Crimea, he replied: “It is different from the fact that Russians live there.”

When asked whether this was a sufficient reason for Russia to “take it away and assign it to itself,” the actor said: “[Crimeans] Do it yourself, like the referendum.'

Biković referred to a highly contentious referendum that took place after Russia invaded Crimea, a former part of Ukraine that was largely autonomous from Ukraine.

Russian troops seized key cities in Crimea in late February 2014 after pro-Russian demonstrations led to the overthrow of then-President Viktor Yanukovych.

The referendum, held after the arrival of Russian forces, officially yielded a 97% majority in favor of integration into mainland Russia, based on a reported turnout of 83%.

A graduate of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts at the University of the Arts in Belgrade, Serbia, Biković appeared almost exclusively in Russian or Serbian television, film and theater productions

A graduate of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts at the University of the Arts in Belgrade, Serbia, Biković appeared almost exclusively in Russian or Serbian television, film and theater productions

Ukraine criticized HBO for casting the pro-Putin actor

Ukraine criticized HBO for casting the pro-Putin actor

But international observers said the referendum that officially justified the formal annexation of Crimea on March 18, 2014, just two days after the referendum, was massively manipulated.

Military observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which monitors elections around the world to ensure their validity, said they were forced to turn away from Crimea after Russian forces fired warning shots at them.

The United Nations also heavily criticized Russia at the time for encouraging the presence of paramilitaries and unidentified soldiers near voting booths.

An American official said at the time that there was “concrete evidence” that the referendum ballots had arrived pre-stamped.

Just eight years later, Russia used a similar claim to protect ethnic Russians to justify its invasion of the rest of Ukraine.

Web has contacted HBO and Biković's agents at Artist International Group for comment.