French film star Gerard Depardieu received a hug from President Vladimir Putin and a new Russian passport on Sunday after abandoning his homeland to avoid a new tax rate for millionaires.Mr Putin dined with Depardieu on Saturday night at the presidential residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, the Kremlin announced on Sunday.
Depardieu flew into Russia "on a private visit," on Saturday evening. "Being in the country, he was presented with a Russian passport," Mr Putin's official spokesman told state-owned news agencies.Depardieu received his Russian documents as details emerged of a furious argument he had with French president Francios Hollande earlier this month.
The actor has threatened to quit France for good over Mr Hollande's plans for a 75 per cent tax rate on all earnings over one million euros.The French actor not only has a Russian passport, but may soon have a Russian home.
Depardieu flew to Saransk, 390 miles from Moscow, on Sunday to visit the country's only memorial to Yemelyan Pugachyov, the leader of a Cossack uprising in the 18th century who Depardieu has reportedly said he wants to play in an up coming film.
"I am very happy, it's very beautiful here, beautiful and soulful people live here," Interfax quoted the actor as saying after he was greeted by young women wearing national costumes and serving pancakes.
Local media reported that the regional governor may also be present the actor with keys to an apartment in the city – along with the official registration documents that any Russian citizen needs in order to navigate the country's mind boggling bureaucracy.