Russian President Vladimir Putin Gets A Bear Hug From French Actor Gerard Depardieu As He Arrives In Russia To Formally Receive His New Passport

Gerard Depardieu Finally Gets His Russian Passport From Putin, But Remains French At ‘Heart’

Gerard Depardieu was presented with his new Russian passport by President Vladimir Putin on Saturday.

The pair dined at the president’s villa on Saturday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, the Kremlin announced on Sunday.

Putin’s official spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said “a brief meeting between the president and Depardieu took place. On the occasion of his visit to Russia, he was handed a Russian passport,” Reuters reports.

A video of the meeting released yesterday morning showed Depardieu embracing Putin in a bear hug on his arrival at the president’s residence, said The Wall Street Journal.

The French actor renounced his citizenship after a furious row with the French government over moves to impose a 75 percent tax on residents earning more than one million euros a year, and has since triggered an ongoing national debate in France on the issue.

The row escalated after the French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called the Cyrano de Bergerac star “pathetic and unpatriotic,” to which Deparardieu responded with an indignant open letter.

Despite a French court eventually dismissing the tax hike as “unconstitutional” at the end of last year, the French government still intends to pursue the tax raise.

After Depardieu joked in a December interview with Le Monde about seeking Russian citizenship, Putin said publicly in an end of year press conference that “if he [Depardieu] really wants it, the matter can be considered resolved positively.”

Putin granted Russian citizenship to Depardieu in a decree on January 3.

French actor Gérard Depardieu, center, poses on a theatre stage wearing a traditional folk outfit after he arrived in Saransk, some 700 kilometres east of Moscow, Russia, on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013