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RUSSIA

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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RUSSIA

Russia announces no New Year’s greetings for France, US, Germany

US President Joe Biden, France's Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will not be receiving New Year's greetings from Russian leader Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin said on Friday.

Russia announces no New Year's greetings for France, US, Germany

As the world gears up to ring in the New Year this weekend, Putin sent congratulatory messages to the leaders of Kremlin-friendly countries including Turkey, Syria, Venezuela and China.

But Putin will not wish a happy New Year to the leaders of the United States, France and Germany, countries that have piled unprecedented sanctions on Moscow over Putin’s assault on Ukraine.

“We currently have no contact with them,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“And the president will not congratulate them given the unfriendly actions that they are taking on a continuous basis,” he added.

Putin shocked the world by sending troops to pro-Western Ukraine on February 24.

While Kyiv’s Western allies refused to send troops to Ukraine, they have been supplying the ex-Soviet country with weapons in a show of support that has seen Moscow suffer humiliating setbacks on the battlefield.

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