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Gérard Depardieu receives Russian passport

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Reuters

The French actor Gérard Depardieu has received his new Russian passport during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort Sochi.


A spokesman for the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov, told news agency AFP Depardieu received the passport during a brief private visit to Putin's residence.

When asked whether Putin personally handed the passport to Depardieu, Peskov said: "No", but did not go further.

The two men were seen on television hugging and sitting casually around a table talking about a Franco-Russian film in which Depardieu portrays Rasputin.

On Sunday, Depardieu travelled to the Russian region of Mordovia, where he was treated to a large party and given the option of an apartment or a house, along with two kittens and other gifts.

He then showed off his new passport with the Russian name Жора Депардиев, or Jora Depardiev.

On Thursday, the Kremlin announced Putin signed a decree granting Depardieu Russian nationality after the 64-year old actor applied for citizenship as part of a tax row with the French government.

François Hollande’s Socialist government intends to push through a 75% tax rate on people who earn more than one million euros.

The Kremlin's move, and subsequent comments by Depardieu professing his love for Putin and calling Russia "a great democracy", sparked amusement, disbelief and a heavy dose of irony inside Russia.

Depardieu is a regular guest to Russia, appearing on television advertisements and advertising campaigns.

He also visited Chechnya in October, proclaiming in Russian: "Glory to Kardyrov", the Kremlin-backed leader of the turbulent region.

The French 60s screen siren Brigitte Bardot has also threatened to seek Russian citizenship as a protest against plans to euthanise two sick elephants at a zoo in Lyon.