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Gerard Depardieu, the French actor who was granted Russian citizenship, met with President Vladimir Putin on Saturday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi after receiving his new passport, according to a statement on the Kremlin’s website.
Two photographs on the site show the actor, who played the eccentric Russian monk Grigory Rasputin in a 2011 film, dining with Putin and embracing him.
Depardieu, who said he’s moving to Belgium to flee taxes imposed on the wealthy by French President Hollande, has developed close links with Russia, which has a flat 13 per cent personal income tax rate.
He currently appears as “the face” of Bank Sovietsky in an ad campaign on its website and was among Western celebrities invited last year to the birthday of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.