Gerard Depardieu granted Russian citizenship by Vladimir Putin

By Daniel S Levine,

Russian president Vladimir Putin is ready to welcome French actor Gerard Depardieu, who made headlines in December by renouncing his French citizenship to avoid high income taxes.

According to Reuters, a Kremlin spokesman confirmed that Depardieu, who moved to Belgium, had applied for Russian citizenship after hearing Putin say he was sympathetic to his cause last month.

“If Gerard really wants to have either a residency permit in Russia or a Russian passport, we will assume that this matter is settled and settled positively,” Putin had told the media in December.

The BBC notes that Depardieu could not actually give up his French citizenship until he acquired a new nationality. So, this will allow him to leave his native country, where he is still a popular movie star.

Russia has a much lower income tax rate at just 13 percent, than what new French President Francois Hollande is hoping to impose. Hollande hopes to impose a 75 percent income tax rate for those making over 1 million euros.

Le Monde had reported in December that Russia was one of the places Depardieu was considering moving to. “Putin has already sent me a passport,” he told the paper, reports Reuters.

However, the Kremlin said that it is “absolutely not mandatory” that he immediately move to Russia.

Depardieu was widely criticized by French politicians and his colleagues, although several, including Catherine Deneuve, came to his defense.

Depardieu is well-known in Russia, having appeared in ad campaigns and starring in a 2011 film as Rasputin.

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