WORLD From Paris with love: Depardieu votes in Russian election

WORLD

From Paris with love: Depardieu votes in Russian election

AFP

05:40, March 19, 2018

One of Russia's most famous citizens, French film star Gerard Depardieu, joined the millions who cast ballots in Sunday's presidential election (Photo: AFP)

One of Russia's most famous citizens, French film star Gerard Depardieu, joined the millions who cast ballots in Sunday's presidential election.

Depardieu, a friend of President Vladimir Putin who presented him with a Russian passport in 2013 during a tax row between the actor and French authorities, voted at the Russian embassy in Paris.

The embassy tweeted a picture of the 69-year-old, wearing a coat with fur trim and sunglasses perched on his head, popping his ballot in the box.

"Gerard Depardieu voted in the Russian presidential election at a polling station at the Russian embassy in France. Come!," it tweeted, urging other Russians in France to follow suit.

A video of the moment, tweeted by a reporter from Russian broadcaster RT, was widely circulated on French news sites, where it triggered a tide of mostly contemptuous responses.

"I don't like insults but for me this man is a sellout," one person tweeted in French. Another posted a GIF of a man vomiting.

Depardieu caused an uproar in 2012 when he declared he would hand back his French passport and move to Belgium to avoid a tax hike by the then Socialist government.

His popularity slumped further after he accepted a Russian passport -- and a bear hug -- from Putin.

The larger-than-life star of "Cyrano de Bergerac" and the Asterix & Obelix franchise, who is still a French citizen, has since become a staunch defender of the Kremlin's policies, including its annexation of Crimea.

"I'm a citizen of the world," he told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera in 2016. "France is likely to become a Disneyland for foreigners, populated by imbeciles making wine and stinky cheese for tourists."

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