NIZHNY NOVGOROD, February 24 (RIA Novosti) – French film star Gerard Depardieu, who was recently granted Russian citizenship, has selected cheese for a small restaurant he plans to open in Mordovia, central Russia, the republic's press and information minister said on Sunday.
“This will be special cheese. Depardieu has requirements for the design and packing,” Valery Maresyev told reporters after the French actor was given a tour around a local cheese factory that uses French machinery.
The French actor, who also visited a local poultry farm and an agricultural complex on Sunday, “was pleased” with the quality of the products which he compared to the European ones, Maresyev said.
Shortly after a lavish ceremony, attended by local officials, Depardieu announced plans to open a cheap restaurant in Saransk where “working people will go to snack".
Depardieu received his residence permit in Saransk, the capital of Mordovia, on Saturday. His official residence was listed as an apartment on Democracy Street 1, the home of his long-time friend, Nikolai Borodachyov, Director of the National Film Fund.
Borodachyov earlier said the French actor, who is fleeing high taxes in France, also wanted to build a “wooden house” outside Moscow.
Depardieu, 64, who calls himself a “citizen of the world,” has declared his love for President Vladimir Putin and called Russia a "great democracy".
The legendary French actor was given a Russian passport at a meeting with President Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on January 6.
Depardieu renounced his French citizenship ahead of the government’s planned implementation of a 75 percent tax rate for annual earnings above $1.3 million. By comparison, Russia has a fixed 13 percent income tax.
France’s highest court later rejected the controversial government proposal to impose a “super-tax” on the wealthy, deeming it discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional.