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Liz goes shooting in Grozny – but it's all for the cameras

HE is the strongman leader of Chechnya, a ruthless former rebel fighter with strict Muslim habits and a passion for powerful cars and weapons.

She is a glamorous British actress, known for her revealing dresses and lightweight comedy.

They seem unlikely candidates for friendship, but yesterday Ramzan Kadyrov and Elizabeth Hurley appeared to be bonding over a white kitten.

Mr Kadyrov posted pictures of the 'Bedazzled' and 'Austin Powers' star on his Instagram account after she arrived in Chechnya to begin filming a thriller with Gerard Depardieu, the French actor.

Less than a decade ago, Grozny, the capital, lay in ruins, pulverised by years of fighting.

Yesterday it was briefly transformed into a film set as Depardieu and Hurley swept into town to start work on 'Turquoise', about a French art thief and his Russian old flame.

Half of the film will be shot in the Chechen capital which has been rebuilt under Mr Kadyrov, the Muslim region's provocative pro-Moscow leader.

Depardieu and Hurley received an effusive and at times sycophantic welcome as they announced the film at a press conference.

Hilary Swank, the last foreign actress to visit Mr Kadyrov – for a gala dinner – ended up issuing a public apology and sacking her manager after a rights group criticised her for hobnobbing with him.

Depardieu and Mr Kadyrov struck up a friendship two years ago when the actor attended the Chechen leader's birthday celebrations.

At the press conference, Hurley said she had "taken a deep breath" when she first heard she would be playing scenes in Chechnya, but decided that it was "a good opportunity". (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent