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'I'm French', Depardieu insists after given Russian passport

Published on Jan 8, 2013 6:18 AM
French film star Gerard Depardieu, wearing a local costume, shows his passport during a ceremony in the town of Saransk in the Mordoviya Republic, south-east of Moscow, Jan 6, 2013. Depardieu received a hug from Russia's President Vladimir Putin and a new Russian passport on Sunday after abandoning his homeland to avoid a new tax rate for millionaires. -- PHOTO : REUTERS

ZURICH (AFP) - French actor Gerard Depardieu insisted he was still French on Monday as he arrived at one of football's top awards ceremonies fresh from being handed a Russian passport.

"I have a Russian passport, but I am French and will certainly have dual Belgian citizenship," he told French television sports channel L'Equipe 21 from Zurich, where he was attending the Ballon D'Or.

He denied he had obtained the Russian passport to avoid paying taxes. "If I wanted to avoid taxes, I would have done so long ago," he said, claiming to be a "citizen of the world".

The 64-year-old Cyrano de Bergerac, Green Card and Asterix & Obelix star was in Switzerland after a rapturous reception at the weekend in Russia, where he was given the new passport amid a tax row with French authorities.

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