Russians reacted with amusement, disbelief and a heavy dose of irony to the news that the Kremlin has granted citizenship to French actor Gerard Depardieu to solve his tax woes.
In a letter broadcast on Russian television, the former Oscar nominee declared his love for President Vladimir Putin and called Russia a “great democracy.”
“He is impressed by our democracy — he has completely lost his marbles,” wrote one Facebook user, Vladimir Sokolov.
Far-left politician Eduard Limonov suggested Depardieu could reprise his famous film role of French revolutionary Georges Danton and risk detention by riot police at a regular unsanctioned rally against Putin.
“Gerard, come to Triumfalnaya Square on January 31 with your new Russian passport in your pocket,” Limonov wrote on his blog. “Our French friend: here’s an invitation to a real historical role.”
Depardieu seemed unlikely to take up this offer after Putin praised their “very friendly, personal relationship” at a recent news conference.
Russia has used Depardieu’s request to preen itself over what it sees as an endorsement of its economic policies.
“Depardieu’s case shows that financial and economic stability are often the most important factor in choosing a country, not only for investors but for artists, too,” said former economic development minister and now head of Russia’s largest savings bank, German Gref.