Dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov calls Trump 'totalitarian opportunist'

August 18, 2016 3:59 PM EDT

Renowned stage performer Mikhail Baryshnikov pauses during a news conference at the Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre in Tel Aviv November 13, 2011. REUTERS/Nir Elias

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(Reuters) - Legendary Russian-American dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov has denounced Donald Trump as a "totalitarian opportunist,' saying the Republican presidential candidate's speeches remind him of his years in the Soviet Union.

Baryshnikov, 68, who defected to the West in 1974, made his views known in a video released on Wednesday in which he threw his support behind Democratic White House hopeful Hillary Clinton.

"Today, as a citizen of the United States, for the first time, I’m hearing rhetoric that reminds me of the Soviet Union of my youth, where it was a crime, and continues to be, a crime to be different," Baryshnikov said.

"Take it from one who knows. Hundreds of thousands of people like me have fled from countries led by dangerous totalitarian opportunists like Donald Trump," he added.

Baryshnikov's video, titled '#ITrustHer', was produced by Humanity for Hillary, a social media campaign of artists that aims to build support for Clinton ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

Baryshnikov, regarded as one of the world's best ballet dancers, defected from what was then the Soviet Union seeking more artistic freedom. He went on to lead the American Ballet Theatre and to co-found the White Oak Dance Project, as well as building a career as an actor in films like "The Turning Point" and the TV series "Sex and the City."

You can watch the video here:

(Reporting by Reuters Television; Writing by Melissa Fares in New York; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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