Belgian town makes Depardieu honorary citizen
A Belgian local council made flamboyant French film star Gérard Depardieu an honorary citizen on Saturday as he threw a housewarming party in the village near the French border where he has bought a home. President Vladimir Putin granted Depardieu Russian nationality in January after the actor said he was leaving France because of a planned supertax.
The Belgain local council of Estaimpuis declared Depardieu a persona very grata on Saturday ahead of a barbecue the star is hosting at his home in the village of Nechin, a quarter of whose residents are French, most of them wealthy.
"Gerard, Estaimpuis loves you," declared local official Daniel Senesael at a ceremony at a 12th-century château.
Depardieu invited his neighbours to the barbecue, which was expected serve T-bone steaks and suckling pig to 200 people.
"I love France as much as ever," he said. "It's my country."
As well as moving to Nechin, Depardieu has cutlivated frienships with Putin, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and other eastern rulers, singing a duet on video with Uzbek President Islam Karimov's controversial daughter, Gulnara.
"I am a free man. I feel at home everywhere in Europe," he told Le Figaro Magazine.