WASHINGTON — Actor Antonio Banderas traveled to Kazakhstan this week where he is serving as a bank manager in a Kazakh bank for a day as part of the bank's new PR campaign, according to a state news agency.
"Banderas who was presented with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is to become a manager at one of the branches of Kaspi Bank for one day," Kazinform reports. "The Hollywood star will help ordinary Kazakhstanis open bank deposits. According to CEO of the bank Mikhail Lomtadze, the American star was invited as a part of the bank's PR campaign."
Banderas also reportedly gave a donation to the Ayala Foundation, a Kazakh charity.
A video taken at a press conference at Kaspi Bank on Friday shows Banderas taking questions from reporters and playing the guitar:
Banderas is the latest celebrity to make public appearances in Central Asia lately; Jennifer Lopez apologized after serenading Turkmenistan's strongman president in July, and Kanye West made a reported $3 million for performing at the wedding of a relative of Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev in August.
Kazakhstan has a spotty human rights record, with the most recent State Department human rights report citing "severe limits on citizens' rights to change their government; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion, and association; and lack of an independent judiciary and due process, especially in dealing with pervasive corruption and law enforcement and judicial abuse."
Kaspi Bank does not appear on the face of it to be a state-run enterprise. On its website, it says that it "gets financing from the largest international investors."
A spokesperson for Banderas didn't immediately return a request for comment and clarification about how much Banderas was paid.
Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics and foreign policy.
Contact Rosie Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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