PARIS: One of Russia's most famous citizens, French film star Gerard Depardieu, joined the millions who cast ballots in Sunday's presidential election.
Depardieu, a friend of President Vladimir Putin who presented him with a Russian passport in 2013 during a tax row between the actor and French authorities, voted at the Russian embassy in Paris.
The embassy tweeted a picture of the 69-year-old, wearing a coat with fur trim and sunglasses perched on his head, popping his ballot in the box.
"Gerard Depardieu voted in the Russian presidential election at a polling station at the Russian embassy in France. Come!," it tweeted, urging other Russians in France to follow suit.
A video of the moment, tweeted by a reporter from Russian broadcaster RT, was widely circulated on French news sites, where it triggered a tide of mostly contemptuous responses.
"I don't like insults but for me this man is a sellout," one person tweeted in French. Another posted a GIF of a man vomiting.
Depardieu caused an uproar in 2012 when he declared he would hand back his French passport and move to Belgium to avoid a tax hike by the then Socialist government.
His popularity slumped further after he accepted a Russian passport — and a bear hug — from Putin.
The larger-than-life star of "Cyrano de Bergerac" and the Asterix & Obelix franchise, who is still a French citizen, has since become a staunch defender of the Kremlin's policies, including its annexation of Crimea.
"I'm a citizen of the world," he told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera in 2016. "France is likely to become a Disneyland for foreigners, populated by imbeciles making wine and stinky cheese for tourists." -- AFP