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HBO series ditches Serbian actor after Ukrainian backlash

Milos Bikovic says a “targeted campaign” deprived him of a role in ‘The White Lotus’

Serbian-born actor Milos Bikovic has announced that he has left the cast of HBO’s award-winning series ‘The White Lotus’. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry had demanded that Bikovic be removed due to his close ties with Russia.

The actor explained that he will no longer be involved in the series due to “a targeted campaign.”

“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,” Bikovic wrote on Instagram, adding that he “will not bow to any narrative” that seeks to compromise his integrity.


A dark comedy drama set in a fictional resort chain, ‘The White Lotus’ has won 14 Emmy awards and two Golden Globes. The decision to cast Bikovic for the series was announced in January. Shortly afterwards, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry lashed out at HBO, saying, “Is it all right for you to work with a person who supports genocide & violates international law?”

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Responding to the Ukrainian backlash, the Serbian Foreign Ministry called Bikovic “one of the most talented and most popular Serbian actors of his generation,” while dismissing claims that he is a “genocide supporter” as utterly baseless.

The actor has participated in numerous Russian productions and is an outspoken promoter of Russian culture. In 2018, he was awarded the Pushkin Medal for his contributions to Russian art and culture. Three years later, President Vladimir Putin granted the actor Russian citizenship.


In his Instagram post, Bikovic said the “targeted campaign” against him led to “the triumph of absurdity and the defeat of art.” He described HBO’s decision as “a disturbing precedent shadowing the essence of artistic freedom.” The 36-year-old actor noted that he grew up in a war-torn country and had to hide in shelters during NATO’s bombardment of former Yugoslavia in 1999.

February 03, 2024 at 01:49PM

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