Russians reacted yesterday with amusement, disbelief and a heavy dose of irony to the news that the Kremlin has granted citizenship to French actor Gerard Depardieu to solve his tax woes.
In a letter broadcast on Russian television, the actor declared his love for President Vladimir Putin and called Russia a "great democracy".
"He is impressed by our democracy - he has completely lost his marbles," wrote Facebook user Vladimir Sokolov.
Far-left politician Eduard Limonov suggested Depardieu could reprise his famous film role of French revolutionary Georges Danton and risk detention by riot police at an unsanctioned rally against Putin.
Many speculated about how the film star might adapt to life as a pensioner if he moved to Russia after threatening to renounce his French citizenship over a proposed 75 per cent tax rate on the super rich. If Depardieu, 64, opted to live in Russia more than half the tax year, he would pay just 13 per cent tax to the government, whose budget is dependent on state-owned energy resources.
"We're going to meet him pushing a trolley in the shop, in the queue for blood tests at the polyclinic or at the social security office," wrote journalist and blogger Anton Orekh.
French cinema legend Brigitte Bardot yesterday threatened to follow Depardieu to Russia unless two elephants under threat of being put down are granted a reprieve.
The veteran animal rights campaigner said she would emulate his request unless authorities intervened to save the two threatened elephants, Baby and Nepal.