Brigitte Bardot threatens Russia move over sick elephants

Brigitte Bardot: "If those in power are cowardly enough to kill the elephants, then I have decided I will ask for Russian nationality"

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Former French film star Brigitte Bardot has threatened to apply for Russian citizenship unless France stops two sick zoo elephants from being put down.

The animals, which suffer from tuberculosis, were due to be killed in December, but were granted a reprieve until after Christmas.

Ms Bardot said she would move abroad if the reprieve was not made permanent.

Fellow actor Gerard Depardieu obtained a Russian passport this week following a tax row with the French government.

Mr Depardieu had earlier threatened to move to Belgium to avoid higher taxes.

After the government criticised his decision, he declared he would give up his French nationality.

Earlier this week, the Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin had personally signed a decree granting the actor Russian citizenship.

Mr Putin and Mr Depardieu are said to be personal friends.

'Shameless'

Ms Bardot, a prominent animal rights campaigner, warned she would follow Mr Depardieu's example if authorities failed to save the elephants, known as Baby and Nepal.

"If the powers that be have the cowardice and the shamelessness to kill Baby and Nepal... I have decided to apply for Russian citizenship and leave this country, which is nothing more than an animal cemetery," she said in a statement posted on the website of her animal welfare charity.

The case of the sick elephants, in Lyon's Tete d'Or zoo, has gripped the city since mid-December.

The authorities deemed Baby and Nepal a health threat to other zoo animals and visitors, and ordered them to be put down.

But a circus director who used to own the elephants launched a petition to save their lives.

Thousands signed the petition, gaining the animals a temporary reprieve.

Ms Bardot joined the campaign and wrote a letter to French President Francois Hollande earlier this week, asking him to intervene.

She posted Friday's announcement after her plea failed to elicit a reply.

Ms Bardot has been making headlines in recent years for her controversial remarks about Islam and its followers.

In 2008, she was convicted for the fifth time for inciting racial hatred after complaining on her website that Muslims were "destroying our country by imposing their ways".

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