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June 23, 2017

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Gerard Depardieu still insists 'I'm French'

ZURICH--French actor Gerard Depardieu insisted he was still French on Monday as he arrived at one of soccer's top awards ceremonies fresh from being handed a Russian passport.

"I have a Russian passport, but I am French and will certainly have dual Belgian citizenship," he told French television sports channel L'Equipe 21 from Zurich, where he was attending the Ballon D'Or.

He denied he had obtained the Russian passport to avoid paying taxes.

"If I wanted to avoid taxes, I would have done so long ago," he said, claiming to be a "citizen of the world."

The 64-year-old "Cyrano de Bergerac," "Green Card" and "Asterix & Obelix" star was in Switzerland after a rapturous reception at the weekend in Russia, where he was given the new passport amid a tax row with French authorities.

Amid flash bulbs and fans chanting: "Gerard! Gerard!," he walked the red carpet to the FIFA Ballon d'Or awards, which are set to knight the best soccer player of 2012.

With glasses pushed onto his head, holding back his shoulder-length blond hair, his white shirt partially unbuttoned, the actor gladly posed for pictures and doled out autographs before being welcomed by FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

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