Russia: Depardieu passport claim ‘a joke’

French actor Gérard Depardieu was joking when he said Russian President Vladimir Putin had sent him a passport, the president's spokesman said Wednesday.

"I can't comment. It's probably a joke. I haven't heard anything. Most likely he was joking," spokesman Dmitry Peskov told AFP.

France's leading actor had said "Putin has already sent me a passport," the website of Le Monde newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing his friends.

Depardieu on Sunday threatened to give up his French passport and take up Belgian citizenship to protest at the Socialist government's new tax hike on the rich.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault had called Depardieu "pathetic" for making Belgium his formal place of residence, a move meant to help the actor avoid the French tax.

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