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The 67-year-old film icon travelled Saturday afternoon from Paris to Saransk, where he was welcomed by local leaders. Depardieu spoke in front of several hundred people, according to photographs of the event released to the media.
“I am very flattered that a cultural centre will have my name. It’s too bad that I can’t come to Saransk more often,” Depardieu said, the local newspaper Izvestia Mordovii reported.
“In Mordovia, I feel like a true Russian … I am also a resident of Saransk and I am going to vote in the elections,” he added.
Depardieu, known internationally for his roles in films such as “Cyrano de Bergerac” and “Green Card”, is officially registered as a resident and entrepreneur in Saransk, a city of 300,000 in habitants located about 650 kilometres east of Moscow.
The actor was granted Russian citizenship at the beginning of 2013. The move came after Depardieu caused a scandal by giving up his French passport as a protest against French president François Hollande’s proposal to tax France’s highest earnest earners at over 75 percent.
In 2014, Depardieu announced plans to open a restaurant in Moscow and an arts centre in Saransk. He also has mentioned a wish to launch a line of organic vodka.