Depardieu to open restaurant in Russian city where he lives

Moscow, May 20 (EFE).- French actor Gerard Depardieu, a Russian citizen since early this year, is soon to open a restaurant in the city where he now resides, authorities in the Mordovia region said Monday.

"Depardieu told us that he will soon open a restaurant that aims to attract creative, enterprising people," Valeri Maresiev, information minister for the Russian Republic of Mordovia, told the Interfax news agency.

The actor went through the bureaucratic procedures Monday that are required to register as a businessman in Saransk, Mordovia's capital, some 600 kilometers (370 miles) east of Moscow.

Depardieu, who was granted citizenship on Jan. 3 by a decree of President Vladimir Putin, said from the beginning that he wanted to live far from Moscow, where "there's a lot of traffic, which is very stressful."

Mordovian authorities offered Depardieu in January the possibility of heading the republic's Culture Ministry, an offer the actor refused because, he said, "I am culture minister of the world."

Among his other projects in Russia, Depardieu is preparing to star in two movies about the North Caucasus, to be filmed in Chechnya and Moscow.

The award-winning actor compared Putin with Pope John Paul II and late French President Francois Mitterrand in a recent interview with the Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravda.

Depardieu, 64, left his native France last year to protest the imposition of a 75-percent tax hike on the wealthy, moving first to the Belgian border town of Nechin.