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Depardieu votes in Russian election
French actor Gérard Depardieu voted in the Russian election on Sunday. The star of stage and screen, who was awarded Russian nationality by President Vladimir Putin in 2013, cast his ballot at the Russian embassy in Paris.
"Gérard Depardieu voted on a plot at the Russian Embassy in France in the election of the president of Russia. Come on!" was the embassy's idiosyncratic English translation of its message to other expats in a Facebook post of a photo of the hefty thespian looming over a ballot box on Sunday.
Gérard Depardieu votes at the Russian Embassy in Paris
In an equally enthusiastic tweet the embassy sent out the same message in Russian.
But Depardieu himself was not keen to be interviewed, even by TV channel RT, which is generally regarded as being Kremlin-friendly.
"Gérard Depardieu doesn't like to be disturbed when he is doing his duty as a Russian citizen," RT reporter Lucas Léger commented when he tweeted a clip of the actor shooing him away with a cry of "Oh, what's that thing there?"
Depardieu took Russian citizenship after declaring that he was leaving France because of the then Socialist government's plan to introduce a 75 percent income tax on incomes over a million euros, a move that was blocked by the Constitutional Council.
He is officially registered as a resident and business owner in Saransk, a city of 300,000 residents 650 kilometres east of Moscow.
But he did not renounce his French citizenship.
France refuses to recognise Crimea result
The French foreign ministry on Sunday declared that it did not recognise the Russian election in Crimea, declaring Moscow's annexation of the territory from Ukraine "contrary to international law".
The vote is taking place exactly four years since Putin signed a treaty declaring the territory part of the Russian federation.
"Four years after the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and [the city of] Sevastopol, France remains firmly attached to the full restoration of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within internationally recognised borders," the French statement said.
France, it said, is "concerned by the militarisation of the peninsula and the deterioration of the human rights situation, particularly with regard to Crimean Tatars," a Muslim ethnic minority most of whose members opposed the annexation.
French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will travel to Ukraine next week to discuss the situation in Crimea and eastern Ukraine with the former Soviet republic's pro-Western government, the statement added.