‘The White Lotus’ Cuts Miloš Biković From Season 3 After Ukraine Called Out His Ties to Putin, Biković Says Firing Sets a ‘Disturbing Precedent’

‘The White Lotus’ Cuts Miloš Biković From Season 3 After Ukraine Called Out His Ties to Putin, Biković Says Firing Sets a ‘Disturbing Precedent’

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HBO has cut Miloš Biković from the cast of “The White Lotus” Season 3 following a callout from Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs — a move that Biković says “can create a disturbing precedent shadowing the essence of artistic freedom.”

“We have decided to part ways with Miloš Biković and the role will be recast,” an HBO spokesperson said in a statement.

“Today, a targeted campaign has been unleashed against me,” reads Biković’s statement in response, “seemingly as an external maneuver to influence decisions that can create a disturbing precedent shadowing the essence of artistic freedom. The result of such a narrative is the triumph of absurdity and the defeat of art.”

On Jan. 24, the foreign affairs office made a post on X (formerly Twitter) saying that the Serbian actor and Russian citizen “has been supporting Russia since the start of the full-scale invasion.” The office then named HBO directly, saying, “Is it all right for you to work with a person who supports genocide & violates international law?” A video accompanying the post shows Biković receiving a medal of honor from Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2018 and calls the actor “Kremlin’s foreign mouthpiece.”

Biković has held Russian citizenship since 2021. Along with referring to himself as an “active member of Russian society” and attending panel discussions hosted by the government, he has also collaborated with supporters of the invasion within the Russian entertainment industry, such as director Nikita Mikhalkov. According to an interview he gave the Russian publication Telegraf in 2019, he has been banned from entering Ukraine.

Biković was announced to be joining “The White Lotus” on Jan. 12. His acting credits include the Russian film “Serf” and the Serbian film “South Wind.”

Read Biković’s full statement below.

I grew up in a war-torn country. At the age of 11 I endured days and nights in shelters while my homeland and my hometown were bombed. And could never wish such devastation on anyone. 

There are more and more active conflicts in the entire world. Each one is different. Each one is heartbreaking. I wish all of them to stop and principles of love to prevail. 

Today, a targeted campaign has been unleashed against me, seemingly as an external maneuver to influence decisions that can create a disturbing precedent shadowing the essence of artistic freedom. The result of such a narrative is the triumph of absurdity and the defeat of art.

I was honored to be chosen to be a part of White Lotus, a TV series that I hold in high regard and with colleagues whom I deeply respect. However, my participation is not possible due to reasons beyond the realm of art and I will not bow to any narrative that seeks to compromise my integrity.

I would like to thank everyone who stood by me. I wish my colleagues great success in creating the next season.

Regardless of everything, I strongly believe that art can heal. I believe it can help humanity unite. My beliefs and my dedication to art will remain unchanged.

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