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Depardieu, now Russian citizen, welcomed warmly (+video)

Gerard Depardieu, the French actor who sought Russian citizenship to avoid a millionaires tax in France, arrived in Saransk, Russia, Sunday. Depardieu has been welcomed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as Russian citizens.

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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 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.

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