MOSCOW, July 31 (RIA Novosti) – An eccentric Russian environmentalist who has changed his name to “Gerard Depardieu” and wanted to run for mayor of an Arctic city was denied registration on a technicality, an election official said Wednesday.
Often calling himself “Tree Man” or “Drevarkh the Enlightened,” the 48-year-old resident of the city of Arkhangelsk was apparently photographed for his new “Depardieu” passport with a four-leaf clover design covering half of his face. Born Andrei Khristoforov, he has changed his name at least two dozen times since 2003, Russian media said.
The mayoral hopeful, frequently photographed with a red police beacon on his head and traditional Russian wooden shoes on his feet – along with extravagant robes or nothing but a G-string, has also been repeatedly detained by police for his erratic public lectures on “tree genocide” and politics, reports said.
In April, he changed his name to “Gerard Depardieu” after a French film star-cum-Russian citizen – and tried to get registered as a mayoral candidate in the Arctic port of Severodvinsk, which lies near his native Arkhangelsk, a Russian tabloid reported Tuesday.
“I am almost a mayor,” he was quoted by Metro as saying. “I am running for election so that there are more sensible people in power.”
However, he failed to impress the election authorities and was denied registration for the September 8 vote, an election official in Severodvinsk told RIA Novosti. The official said that the regional department of the Agrarnaya (Farmers’) party, on whose ticket the self-proclaimed “Depardieu” planned to run, is not allowed to field mayoral candidates.
This is not the first time that “Tree Man” has not been allowed to run for office. Since 2003, he has repeatedly been denied registration in parliamentary, mayoral and presidential elections, according to media reports.