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MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse

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Gerard Depardieu, wearing a local costume, shows his passport during a ceremony in the Mordoviya Republic, southeast of Moscow. REUTERS photo

Gerard Depardieu, wearing a local costume, shows his passport during a ceremony in the Mordoviya Republic, southeast of Moscow. REUTERS photo

Russia’s Communist party has invited Gerard Depardieu to join its ranks after the French actor gained a Russian passport amid a tax row with Paris, a top party official said Jan. 11.

“Today I sent Depardieu an official letter offering him membership of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation,” the head of the Moscow party committee, Valery Rashkin, told the state RIA Novosti news agency.

As a Russian passport holder, the actor, 64, is now eligible to join the red-flag-waving largest opposition party, which still preaches the precepts of Marxism and Leninism and enjoys much of its support among pensioners. President Vladimir Putin awarded Depardieu a passport this month after the actor announced his intention to become a tax exile in protest at a 75 percent top rate planned by the French government.

In a letter to Russian media, Depardieu expressed his admiration for Putin and praised the country’s “great democracy.” “My father was a Communist back in the day - he listened to Radio Moscow. And that is my culture too,” he wrote.

Rashkin suggested Depardieu may be keen to join the party given his father’s history, although he conceded he had not asked the actor in person. “I think he has great respect for his father who was a member of the party and shares his position. Now we’ll wait for his decision.”

January/12/2013

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