GROZNY, Russia (Reuters) - French actor Gerard Depardieu said on Tuesday the ethnic Chechen brothers accused of the Boston marathon bombing had been raised American and that residents of the volatile Russian region of Chechnya were not to blame.
The actor, who accepted Russian citizenship after quitting France to avoid a planned 75 percent tax on millionaires, was echoing comments from Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, with whom he has been filmed socialising.
"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," Depardieu said at a news conference.
"You (Chechens) don't carry any responsibility," said Depardieu, who was in Chechnya to shoot a movie in the Russian North Caucasus region.
Kadyrov, who has been criticised for his strongarm rule, says tough policies are required in Chechnya to control Islamist violence in the North Caucasus where insurgents wage almost daily violence to create an Islamic state.
He has denied that Chechnya had any links to the Tsarnaev brothers, accused of blasts that killed three people and injured 264 others at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
U.S. investigators are looking into links between Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed in a gun battle with police, and extremists who wage violence in the mountainous Russian region near Sochi, where Russia plans to hold the 2014 Winter Olympics.
(Writing By Thomas Grove; Editing by Michael Roddy)