Julian Kostov has been picked to replace Milos Bikovic on season 3 of The White Lotus after the original star was fired from season 3 following pressure from Ukraine over his pro-Putin stance.
The 34-year-old Bulgarian actor has been added to the cast to portray a Russian character just days after the 36-year-old Serbian actor Bikovic was fired by HBO.
Season three is set to begin filming soon around Koh Samui, Phuket, and Bangkok as the anthology series will follow a new group of guests at another White Lotus property this time based in Thailand.
Kostov joins quite a star-studded cast including Leslie Bibb, Parker Posey, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Carrie Coon, Francesca Corney, and returning season 1 castmember Natasha Rothwell.
Bikovic recently broke his silence over his firing due to his pro-Putin stance as he said the move was setting a ‘disturbing precedent’ set by the network.
Julian Kostov (pictured in March 2019) has been picked to replace Milos Bikovic on season 3 of The White Lotus after the original star was fired from season 3 following pressure from Ukraine over his pro-Putin stance
The ministry published a video showing Biković, 36, (pictured, right) shaking Vladimir Putin’s hand (pictured, left) at a ceremony where he was handed a top cultural prize
Milos Bikovic, 36, called the recasting decision a ‘disturbing precedent’ in an Instagram post Saturday, claiming he’s the victim of a ‘targeted campaign’
The third season of hit-TV show The White Lotus will be aired in early 2025
Milos Bikovic, 36, was due to star in the hotly anticipated third season of the blockbuster show until Ukraine complained about his political beliefs.
HBO, ceding to Ukraine, sacked him.
In an Instagram post Saturday, claiming he’s the victim of a ‘targeted campaign.’
Biković was believed to have been cast in the role of Russian Valentin, a charming yogi and the hotel’s ‘Life Enhancement Mentor,’ Deadline reports.
‘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. I could never wish such a devastation on anyone,’ the Serbian actor wrote on Instagram.
Bikovic said he wished for active conflicts everywhere ‘to stop and for the 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,’ Biković wrote.
He said: ‘The result of such a narrative is the triumph of absurdity and the defeat of art.’
Addressing his statement, Bikovic said, ‘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,’ he added.
This comes just weeks after Ukraine slammed HBO in January for casting the pro-Putin actor, who was given a medal of honor from the despot himself for his services to the arts and has consistently supported his invasive actions against Ukraine and Crimea.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs boldly called HBO out for its decision to cast Serbian actor Miloš Biković in the upcoming third season of its hit show.
The ministry published a video at the time showing Biković shaking Vladimir Putin’s hand at a ceremony where he was handed a top cultural prize.
He was handed the Pushkin medal, awarded to both Russian citizens and foreigners for achievements in the arts and culture, education, humanities and literature, in 2018 at a ceremony held at the Kremlin, and was awarded Russian citizenship in 2021.
HBO has sacked a Pro-Putin actor from the third season of the Emmy-nominated popular show ‘White Lotus’ after pressure from the Ukrainian government
Biković was believed to have been cast in the role of Russian Valentin, a charming yogi and the hotel’s ‘Life Enhancement Mentor’
Ukraine lashed out at HBO for casting the pro-Putin actor
Biković, a dual Serbian and Russian citizen, said at the time: ‘It is a great honor to say today: Russia is my homeland.’
He added that he was ‘an active member of Russian society.’
A graduate of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts at the University of Arts in Belgrade, Serbia, Biković has almost exclusively starred in dozens of Russian or Serbian TV, film and theatre productions over his 20-year career.
His role in the White Lotus, created, written and directed by Mike White, and executive produced by White, David Bernad and Mark Kamine, was set to be Biković’s first in a Western production.
He is represented by Chris Prapha and Deanna Russo Clark at Artist International Group and Marina Leonova at SV Casting in Russia.
AFP reported that Biković claimed in 2019 that he was banned from entering Ukraine for national security reasons.
Ukraine claims that he support’s Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and said he has filmed TV shows in Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Putin’s forces in 2014.
‘Dear HBO, do you really support genocide?’ they said, applying pressure on the network to drop the actor.
A resurfaced clip showed Biković telling a reporter that he supported the annexation. He said in response to a broad question about Crimea: ‘It differs from the fact that Russians live there.’
Asked whether this was enough of a reason Russia to ‘take it away and assign it to itself,’ the actor said: ‘[Crimeans] do it themselves, as the referendum.’
Biković referred to a heavily disputed referendum that took place after Russia invaded Crimea, formerly a part of Ukraine that was largely autonomous from the nation.
Russian forces seized key cities across Crimea in late February 2014, following pro-Russian demonstrations that led to the ousting of then-president Viktor Yanukovych.
The referendum, run after Russian forces had arrived, officially resulted in a 97 percent vote in favor of integration with mainland Russia, based on a claimed voter turnout of 83 percent.
A graduate of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts at the University of Arts in Belgrade, Serbia, Biković has almost exclusive starred in Russian or Serbian TV, film and theatre productions
But international observers said the referendum, used to officially justify the formal annexation of Crimea on March 18 2014, just two days after the referendum, was massively rigged.
Military observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which helps monitor elections across the world to ensure their validity, said they were forced to turn away from Crimea after Russian forces fired warning shots at them.
The UN also heavily criticized Russia at the time for encouraging the presence of paramilitaries and unidentifiable soldiers around election booths.
An American official said at the time that there was ‘concrete evidence’ that ballots in the referendum arrived pre-marked.
Just eight years later, Russia used a similar claim of protecting ethnic Russians as justification for invading the rest of Ukraine.
Dailymaill.com has contacted HBO and Biković’s agents at Artist International Group for comment.