Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with French businessman Philippe de Villiers in Yalta, Crimea,
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, meets French businessman Philippe de Villiers in Yalta, Crimea Reuters

A French politician and billionaire businessman has signed a deal with President Vladimir Putin to build historical theme parks in Crimea and Moscow.

Philippe de Villiers, who leads the right-wing Eurosceptic Movement for France, is planning to construct the parks along the lines of the popular Puy du Fou, a historical theme park in western France that attracts 1.5 million visitors every year.

De Villiers and Putin, who has shown an interest in opening casinos and amusement facilities in the annexed peninsula, met in the Crimean city of Yalta.

According to a report by the Interfax news agency, the park in Moscow will be called Tsargrad (The City of Tsars) and will be built in honour of the Great Patriotic War of 1812, in which Russia defeated the French army led by Napoleon Bonaparte.

The French MEP was quoted as saying that his developers will "listen carefully" to their Russian historical advisers to avoid any nationalist clash when creating the park.

The 65-year-old, who won 2.2% of the vote in the 2007 French presidential election, is an outspoken Eurosceptic and belongs to an aristocratic family.

On Twitter, de Villiers, who created the original Puy du Fou park in 1978 when he was just a student, talked of an "unforgettable encounter" with Putin.

Crimea has a rich history, which de Villiers will be able to draw on for his theme park. Before being overrun by Russian Empress Catherine the Great in the 18th century, the peninsula on the Black Sea was colonised by ancient Greeks and Romans, Scythian tribes and Tatars.

Puy du Fou show
Puy du Fou show Getty Images/AFP