It’s no secret Gérard Depardieu is keen to leave his native France to escape François Hollande’s millionaires’ tax. Following a fruitful meeting with President Putin, the French film star has just acquired a Russian passport. His decision to quit France has prompted accusations of national betrayal. But what do Russian internet users think? Here’s a selection of reactions making the rounds on the net.

A 'photoshopped' (digitally altered) image of Depardieu in a vest bearing the logo of Putin’s party, United Russia, has been doing the rounds amongst Russian internet users. Depardieu is famous for liking his drink and was recently arrested by police in Paris for driving three times over the legal limit. On Tuesday January 8 he missed a court hearing on the case.
In another dig at Depardieu’s drinking habits, the caption on the right reads: ‘Is there anybody here I drunk with on New Year’s Eve? Can you tell me why I’m Russian?’
This image has been hugely popular amongst Facebook users who see an uncanny physical resemblance between Depardieu and two popular Russian children’s cartoon characters behind him. Known as the ‘two from the chest’ in the classic cartoon ‘Vovka and the far away kingdom’, the characters are diligent but stupid. They also always obey Vovka, a Russian schoolboy whose full name is Vladimir, the same as the Russian President’s.
The photo on the right is of Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who is currently serving a prison sentence in a Mordovian labour camp. The caption reads: ‘famous inhabitants of Mordovia’, implying Depardieu is, like Tolokonnikova, a celebrity in the eastern province. Depardieu visited Mordovia after he was given his Russian passport. Last year, three members of the girl band Pussy Riot went on trial for performing a ‘punk prayer’ criticising Putin in a Moscow cathedral. All three were convicted, and two received prison sentences.
This image shows a bearded Depardieu, bedecked in Russian winter-wear, playing the role of Rasputin in a 2011 film about the infamous mystic. The caption reads: ‘One morning you wake up and you just know you’re Russian’.
‘To Russia!’, says the caption. Depardieu is seen charging forwards in his role as Obelix in a screen adaptation of the French comic, ‘The Adventures of Asterix’.
In this picture, Obelix (Depardieu), has replaced one of three legendary Russian heroes depicted in the well-known ‘Bogatyrs’ painting by Victor Vasnetsov.
The caption reads: ‘Bring two friends to Russia and receive a tax discount”. It hails to the slogan of the fraudulent investment scheme ‘Ponzi’: ‘Bring two friends to our mutual fund and receive a bonus”. Depardieu is seen sharing a meal with two non-Russian ‘friends’, the former Ukrainian President Yushchenko and his wife.
The caption reads: “Russia is a great democracy”, as declared by Depardieu shortly before he received his new passport. He’s depicted as Sharikov, a dog-turned-human who tries to brainwash his former master into believing Bolshevik propaganda. The shot is from a hugely popular screen adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel ‘Heart of a Dog’. Based on the grounds he openly praised Russia’s political system, the image suggests Depardieu defends a political system whose critics often say is as undemocratic as the Soviet Union was. 
In this spoof of a painting by the Russian artist Vassily Shulzhenko, Depardieu is shown to be waiting, while on the toilet, for Brigitte Bardot to come to Russia. It’s been named ‘Waiting for Bardot’, hailing to Samuel Beckett’s play ‘Waiting for Godot’. Bardot, a former actress turned animal rights activist, recently threatened to seek Russian citizenship if two elephants in a Lyon zoo, both thought to have tuberculosis, are given lethal injections.
In a pessimistic interpretation of Depardieu’s future in Russia, this caption reads: ‘After three years, back home to France. Bloody chekists have robbed me blind’. The term ‘chekism’ refers to the control Russia’s secret political police have over society. It derives from ‘Cheka’, the first in a succession of Soviet state security organisations.
Post written with journalists Ostap Karmodi and Claire Williams (@clairewf24)