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Kadyrov Invites Depardieu to Live in Chechnya

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has said that he would be happy for French actor Gerard Depardieu to live in the North Caucasus republic.

Depardieu told French newspaper Le Monde on Tuesday that he was considering moving to Russia and renouncing his French citizenship in protest at his home country's new tax policy targeting high earners.

On Wednesday, Kadyrov said Depardieu's decision to leave France was his own business, saying "our republic would be glad to provide him with conditions worthy of a great cultural figure," Interfax reported.

Kadyrov added that he was personally acquainted with Depardieu, admires his work and considers him "a man with a capital M."

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said earlier that the celebrated actor's comments about moving to Russia were likely in jest.

Depardieu, who has performed in more than 180 movies and television shows, has also listed Belgium among a list of potential countries where he could avoid the steep hike in income tax set to come into force in France next year.

A Belgian mayor subsequently confirmed to The Associated Press that the actor had bought a home and set up a legal residence in his small town.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called the actor's intention of fleeing France "pathetic."

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