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article imageFilm director Emir Kusturica visits Moscow-annexed Crimea

By AFP     Jul 23, 2017 in World

Acclaimed Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica on Sunday arrived in the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia from Ukraine to give a concert with his No Smoking Orchestra group.

The two-time winner of the Cannes Film Festival's Palme d'Or is set to give a concert in Crimea's Black Sea resort of Yalta.

On arrival in the regional capital of Simferopol, he told journalists that "I know Yalta has wonderful scenery and nice girls," Russia's RIA Novosti state news agency reported.

Kusturica last year received a state honour called the Order of Friendship from Russian President Vladimir Putin in a ceremony at the Kremlin, while Russia and Serbia have close cultural ties.

Earlier this month Kusturica praised Putin's "gentle nature" in an interview with state-funded RT network, saying that the Kremlin strongman had made the country proud of its history and culture.

The director's visit to Crimea defied a clampdown by Ukraine on arts figures who have visited the Black Sea peninsula since Moscow's 2014 annexation.

Ukraine has strict rules on visiting Crimea that only allow visits with permission from Kiev and via certain entry points. Those who fly into Crimea by plane from Moscow as Kusturica did face a ban on entry to Ukraine.

Ukraine's security service has said it has issued travel bans on some 140 Russian arts figures over visits to Crimea or expressing support for Russia's annexation of the peninsula.

A music festival in Crimea in August is set to feature German techno band Scooter -- massively popular in the ex-Soviet Union in the 1990s -- and Russian rock band Leningrad, according to its website.

Kusturica told Russian news site Gazeta.ru this month that he is set to make a film based on themes from Fyodor Dostoevsky's novels, which will be shot in China.

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