ACTOR Gerard Depardieu has registered as a resident of the provincial Russian city of Saransk, where he plans to open a restaurant far from the high taxes of his homeland.
The star of Cyrano de Bergerac, affectionately known as Gege in his native France, was in Saransk yesterday to get a residency stamp in his new Russian passport at a ceremony attended by officials and singers in folk costumes.
Depardieu (64) first moved to Belgium last year to avoid a planned 75 per cent tax on millionaires and has since continued east to Russia, where President Vladimir Putin granted him citizenship last month.
Depardieu has said he did not leave France for tax reasons. Russia, where the actor has appeared in advertising campaigns for ketchup and a film about the monk Grigory Rasputin, has a flat tax of 13 per cent on income.
"For me, registration here isn't a formality. I intend to come here often," Depardieu said after the ceremony.
Saransk, which largely consists of run-down Soviet apartment blocks, is an industrial centre noted for its machine building and chemical industries. Depardieu used to live in a mansion on the Left Bank of the Seine in Paris.