MOSCOW (AP) — The day after receiving his new Russian passport from President Vladimir Putin, French actor Gerard Depardieu flew Sunday to the provincial town of Saransk, where he was greeted as a local hero and offered an apartment for free.
Depardieu had sought Russian citizenship as part of his battle against a proposed super tax on millionaires in France.
Putin granted his request last week and then welcomed the actor late Saturday to his residence in Sochi, the host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Russian television showed the two men embracing and then chatting over supper, discussing a soon-to-be-released film in which Depardieu plays Russian monk Grigory Rasputin.
Depardieu flew Sunday to Saransk, a town about 500 kilometers (300 miles) east of Moscow, where he was met at a snow-covered airport by the governor and a group of women in traditional costume singing folk songs. He flashed his new passport to the crowd before setting out on a tour of the town.
The governor invited Depardieu to settle in Saransk and offered him an apartment of his choice, according to reports on state television.
Depardieu has not said where he would take up residence in Russia, only that he did not want to live in Moscow because it is too big and he prefers a village.
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