In this file photo taken on February 18, 2018 French actor Gerard Depardieu poses during a photocall for the second season of the French TV show "Marseille" broadcasted and co-produced by US streaming video giant Netflix, in Marseille, southern France. One of Russia's most famous citizens, French film star Gerard Depardieu, joined the millions who cast ballots in the March 18, 2018 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. AFP

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