French actor Gérard Depardieu has been given a warm welcome in the region of Mordovia, hours after receiving his Russian passport.
It is an area known for it’s harsh prisons – one of the convicted members of the punk band Pussy Riot is serving her sentence there.
Depardieu later defended his decision to take up Russian citizenship describing the country as a “great democracy”.
“I am a citizen of the world,” he said, “and I am lucky to have a Russian passport now. I think many people like Russia, those who speak ill of President Putin, have never left their homes and so they have not developed in a very long time.”
Vladimir Putin rushed through Depardieu’s passport after the actor rejected his native France when the French government announced plans to raise taxes on the rich.
Depardieu does have links with Russia having made a film on Rasputin and is currently appearing in an advertising campaign for a Russian bank.