Serbia has jumped to the defense of its countryman Milos Bikovic after Ukraine attacked HBO’s decision to cast the Russian sympathizer in The White Lotus.
Bikovic is set to play a wellness guru in Mike White’s hit series, sparking anger in Kyiv, where the Ukrainian government produced a social media video accusing him of supporting Vladimir Putin’s war.
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Bikovic declined to condemn the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. In an Instagram post soon after the Russian assault, he said that he wished there were no wars.
“Each conflict has its own circumstances,” he wrote, per a translation of his Russian text. “And the worst part is that war and bloodshed on either side reminds us how far humanity is from world unity and love. God save the lives of all those who are now in danger.”
Bikovic and HBO are yet to comment on the Ukrainian video, which makes clear that the actor has become a Russian citizen and was personally awarded a cultural medal by Putin.
Miloš Biković, Serbian actor who has been supporting Russia since the start of the full-scale invasion, is now set to star in HBO's The White Lotus Season 3@HBO, is it all right for you to work with a person who supports genocide & violates international law?
📹 @United24media pic.twitter.com/ceWkXVttfp
— MFA of Ukraine 🇺🇦 (@MFA_Ukraine) January 24, 2024
The Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the allegations that Bikovic was a genocide apologist were “unfounded” and that he is one of the most celebrated actors the country has produced.
Per the Serbian news agency Tanjug, the government said: “We underline that the claims by the Ukrainian side are unfounded as Milos Bikovic is, above all, one of the most popular and the most talented Serbian actors of his generation who, despite his young age, has already left a mark in Serbian as well as international cinema.”
The Ukrainian video included comments by Bikovic from interviews. In them, he appears to back Russia’s occupation of Crimea, which became a precursor to the 2022 invasion of Ukraine. He has traveled to the peninsula multiple times, including for work, resulting in Ukraine putting him on a no-entry list in 2019.
The 36-year-old has lived and worked in Russia for over a decade, becoming one of the most popular actors in the country. In 2021, he was granted Russian citizenship by a decree signed by Putin who also awarded Bikovic a medal in 2018.
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