Russian Media Question Legitimacy of Gerard Depardieu’s Russian Passport

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MOSCOW -- Russian media and bloggers have pointed to irregularities surrounding the issuing of a Russian passport to French actor Gerard Depardieu.

The country’s main online newspaper, gazeta.ru, reported that the Russian migration service apparently neglected some regulations by issuing a Russian passport to Depardieu in a record short time and during a period when all official agencies were on New Year’s vacation.

The publication cited a regulation, under which an internal Russian passport is to be issued or re-issued at a place of the holder’s residence, while Depardieu’s passport was issued by the Moscow office of the federal migration service. Depardieu previously said that he had no plans of residing in Moscow. Currently, the actor has no residence in Russia at all. Gazeta.ru also doubted that Depardieu was able to submit 11 documents required to apply for Russian citizenship in just over a day.

The report also cited examples of foreign nationals who were granted Russian citizenship for their outstanding contributions to Russian sports. It took 10 days to issue a Russian passport to Korea-born short track Olympic champion An Hyun Su a year ago, following a decree by then President Dmitry Medvedev, while American-born snowboarder Vic Wild waited for his passport for several months.

Russian bloggers also noted that the photo in Depardieu’s Russian passport was apparently downloaded off the internet, and was taken back in 2007, with Depardieu posing in it next to French actress Sandrine Bonnaire. Under Russian law, a passport photo has to be recent. The passport, which the actor proudly displayed after his meeting with President Vladimir Putin earlier this week, also lacks a signature of his holder.

Meanwhile, Depardieu continues to attract attention from various Russian organizations. On January 11, it was announced that he was granted the status of an honorary citizen of the region of Udmurtia. The same day, Russia’s Communist Party said it had invited Depardieu to join the party. “Today I sent Depardieu an official letter inviting him to join [the Communist Party of Russian Federation],” Valery Rashkin, first secretary of the Moscow city Communist party committee, was quoted as saying by the wire service RIA Novosti. “I think he has immense respect for his father, who was a communist, and shares his views.”

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