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In Crimea, U.S. Rocker Sings Putin's Praises, Mulls Move To Minsk

Joe Lynn Turner (left) says his Belarusian wife, Maya, "is my greatest asset in life. She's my angel,"
Joe Lynn Turner (left) says his Belarusian wife, Maya, "is my greatest asset in life. She's my angel,"

Gerard Depardieu, Steven Seagal, Mickey Rourke -- and Joe Lynn Turner.

At 64, the former vocalist for hard-rock groups Rainbow and Deep Purple has joined a list of artists better known for earlier work who have jumped to the defense of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

At a news conference in Russian-annexed Crimea, where he had three concerts scheduled, Turner said he wore a pin depicting Putin because "I believe it."

"I've listened to every leader in the world," Turner said. "The only one telling the truth is Putin."

Turner was speaking on August 12 in Simferopol, the capital of the Black Sea peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in March 2014 after sending in troops and staging a hasty referendum dismissed by the United States and about 100 other countries as illegitimate.

"Truth be told, I have no love anymore for the United States," Turner said. "I don't like the administrations, I don't like what's going on, I don't like the lies to people. I don't like anything. It's not my father's country, when there was opportunity, when there was truth."

Deep Purple is admired by many Russians who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s -- including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, 49, who seemed awestruck when he hosted the band during his presidency, in 2011.

Rainbow was also well-known in the Soviet Union, where hunger for Western music was strong under a repressive government.

Actors Seagal, Rourke, and Depardieu have all praised Putin, and Depardieu has acquired Russian citizenship -- along with a passport presented by Putin himself.

Turner has other plans. While singing the praises of Putin, the singer said he might settle down in another country ruled by an authoritarian leader -- Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

Turner said he was considering moving to Belarus "if Lukashenka lets me in."

Turner is married to Maya Kozyreva, a lawyer from Minsk. "She is my greatest asset in life. She's my angel," he told Guitar World in 2012.

It is unclear whether Turner has applied for Belarusian citizenship. A Foreign Ministry spokesman told RFE/RL's Belarus Service that it was not aware of an application, and a spokeswoman for Lukashenka told Belarusian website that there had been no official applications.

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    Nick Shchetko

    Nick Shchetko is a senior digital editor for Current Time TV, the Russian-language network run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA.

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