March 01, 2013

Note Book

Russia gained a new citizen this winter in the person of one of the world’s best known Frenchmen: actor Gerard Depardieu. In December, the film star lambasted the French government over a plan to raise taxes on top earners, after which President Vladimir Putin publicly offered Depardieu a Russian passport, in what many thought was simply a joke.

Yet when Depardieu, who plays Rasputin in an upcoming feature film, declared his love for Russia and called it a “great democracy,” authorities hastily issued him a passport, and the actor trekked to Saransk, in Mordovia, to explore his new motherland. There he was greeted by a crew of folk dancers wielding blini, in a gesture of hospitality.

The local governor offered Depardieu an official post in the cultural department, but the actor declined. Although he has renounced his French citizenship, Depardieu remains a resident of Belgium and is unlikely to move to Saransk, or Moscow for that matter.

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