SARANSK, Russia. Feb 23 (Interfax) - Actor Gerard Depardieu received an official residential address in Russia on Saturday.
His new Russian home is situated in Saransk, capital of Russia's Mordovia republic.
"This all happened in the Volga Finno-Ugric Cultural Center at the Mordovian State National Theater. He received his registration in the foyer of our building. Officials from the migration service were present, and the stamp was put in the presence of a large number of people," center director Yury Mishanin told Interfax.
Mishanin said Depardieu's address was an apartment on Demokraticheskaya Street in the city center. "It's the apartment of Nikolai Borodachyov, director of the Russian State Film Depot, in other words he's had him registered at his own home," Mishanin said.
Depardieu planned to spend the next four days "exploring Mordovia," Mishanin said. "He's going to build a small country house in Mordovia [and] open a small restaurant here in Saransk."
"I'm planning to pay frequent visits to Saransk. I want to thank my friends Vladimir Volkov [head of Mordovia's administration] and Nikolai Borodachyov for creating the atmosphere that surrounds me," a statement on the Mordovian government's website quoted Depardieu as telling a news conference.
"I tell everyone that Russia is an open country with tremendous traditions and a rich culture. To shape an accurate opinion of it one needs to be here and not use obsolete stereotypes," he said.
The actor said that, after his first visit to Saransk, he shared his impressions of Mordovia with the president of the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), Sepp Blatter. Blatter was impressed with work done in Mordovia in getting ready for the 2018 World Cup, Depardieu said
"There have been a lot of questions why Depardieu took Russian citizenship," the statement quoted Borodachyov as saying. "I've known Depardieu personally for about 10 years, I've spoken to him a lot about Russia, about the Russian character, to which he can relate very well. This convinced Depardieu that our country respects other countries. Many people are asking how his acquisition of [Russian] citizenship linked to the French tax system. I want to say in absolute honesty that we discussed his acquisition of Russian citizenship as far back as three years ago. There were no taxes on the agenda at that time."
Borodachyov credited Mordovia with being populated by hard-working, open and hospitable people.
Depardieu told the news conference that he planned to learn Russian, a "very subtle and profound" language, and that he wanted to read Russian classics in the original.
He also actor said he might set up a business in Mordovia and find himself a wife there.
"The event ended up in a theatrical-style fashion show," the statement said.
Depardieu said he planned to spend a week in Mordovia. He was planned to visit several local factories later on Saturday.
"Depardieu has expressed a desire to see what milk, cheese, gherkins we have. So on Saturday he'll visit the Teplichnoye agricultural complex, a dairy factory and the Oktyabrskaya poultry farm," said Natalya Kalitina, spokeswoman for Mordovia's head of administration.
He "will be treated to some food" there, Kalitina added.
On Sunday the actor is going to visit a cheese-making factory.
According to Mordovian media, his visit to Mordovia will include boar hunting, but Kalitina declined to confirm this.
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