Gerard Depardieu 'pleased' to become Russian citizen

Film still of Gerard Depardieu as Grigory Rasputin Gerard Depardieu played eccentric Russian monk Grigory Rasputin in a Franco-Russian film in 2011

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Actor Gerard Depardieu has hailed Russia's decision to grant him citizenship, following a tax row with the government in his native France.

In an open letter, he said he loved Russia, calling it "a great democracy".

Mr Depardieu had recently announced he would give up his French passport after the government criticised his decision to move abroad to avoid higher taxes.

Moscow earlier said President Vladimir Putin had personally signed the decree granting the actor Russian citizenship.

In December, Mr Putin had said he would be happy to welcome the actor in his new country. "If he'd like to have a Russian passport, consider it settled," Mr Putin said.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault had called Mr Depardieu's decision to leave the country "shabby".

In the letter, broadcast on Thursday on Russian TV station Pervyi Kanal, Mr Depardieu said: "I filed a passport application and I am pleased that it was accepted.

"I love your country, Russia - its people, its history, its writers. I love your culture, your intelligence."

He said that he had spoken to French President Francois Hollande and told him Russia was "a great democracy, and not a country where the prime minister calls one of its citizens shabby".

'Friend of Putin'

Under France's civil code, dual citizenship is permitted but it is unlawful to be stateless.

A person must obtain another nationality before giving up French citizenship.

Mr Depardieu's highly publicised tax row began last year after Mr Hollande said he would raise taxes to 75% for those earning more than 1m euros (£817,400).

The actor accused the new socialist government of punishing "success, creation and talent", and announced in early December that he would move to Belgium.

Moscow residents on Depardieu becoming a Russian citizen

Although the Constitutional Council struck down the tax rise proposal on Sunday, Mr Depardieu said this did not change the situation "one bit".

The BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris says the series of events would be amusingly eccentric, were it not also serious in its implications for France's international image.

Mr Depardieu, described by Mr Putin as a successful businessman and friend, has developed close ties with Russia, which has a flat 13% personal income tax rate.

He currently appears in an advertisement for Sovietsky Bank's credit card and is prominently featured on the bank's home page.

In 2011, he played the lead role in the film Rasputin, a Franco-Russian production about the life of eccentric monk Grigory Rasputin.

In addition, Mr Depardieu has also helped raise funds for a children's hospital in St Petersburg.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 467.

    383. powermeerkat

    So, my friend, you're telling me that depending on what kind of genes you was born with decided what your priviliges are in life? If you happen to be successful, it is your responsibility to share this success for the betterment of mankind. This man, even with 25% left of his income, would most likely earn more money than 99% of the worlds population.

  • rate this

    Comment number 466.

    I feel it is an obligation to pay tax. I may not always agree on where it is spent and are sometimes angered by who gets it. But I use the roads, the NHS and get my bins collected. I also rely indirectly on many of the services the state provides so it's only right that I pay my way. But if the government took 75% of my earnings just because I was successful I would pack up and live somewhere else

  • rate this

    Comment number 465.

    Bet he will decline, he'd need a work permit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 464.

    I have had enough no point commenting on articles when you are deleted for saying nothing illegal, incorrect or abusive. Arbitrarily censored.

    Those moderators need to rethink their criteria as some blatantly offensive and untrue comments remain while others are removed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 463.

    Mr Depardieu did not get money for doing nothing. He earned it.

    Acting is not quick buck property investing, or multi BTL fleecing of working families.

    It is impossible, in the long term, to extract wealth through increased taxation on people who can decide their own salaries. The board will just vote for a compensatory pay rise.

    Capping Paris rents might be a better start than a 75% tax rate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 462.

    @452 the fact that actors get paid a lot (the tiny minority btw) is because we pay to see them time and again... They are "crowd sourced". You also have to ask whether the world is a better or worse place for art and culture ... I think the world is richer for diverse art/culture and wouldnt want a world without. What public services we get depends on what we are willing to pay for.

  • rate this

    Comment number 461.

    People who make beyond 1 million euros are not really working for that money in the sense that 'we' work.
    Communist rubbish. If you think all high earners should be taxed to the hilt there's then no incentive for earning high salaries. Without those higher salaries to provide tax income lower earners will have to pay more. Encouraging high earners benefits all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 460.

    Clearly the French should also remember recent UK history, in particular Denis Healey and his "I'll tax the rich till their pips squeak" speech.

    Wealth flowed out of the UK and didnt return till we had Maggie Thatcher. Expect a Thatcherite response and over-reaction from the French electorate in the not too distant future.

  • rate this

    Comment number 459.

    You'd think that these patent empirical facts would have some bearing, wouldn't you?

    And yet, as I know from bitter personal experience, the proponents of that demonstrably failed political dogma that is Socialism (and 'Social Democracy' for that matter) will still go on, endlessly spouting the same "boilerplate" nonsense, entirely irrespective.

    Truth has no bearing here; psuedo-religion?

  • rate this

    Comment number 458.

    Wikipedia which may or may not be accurate - says he lives in Belgium - so maybe he should have taken citizen ship there without making a fit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 457.

    451.f1fan2011 "if we all threw all our money, rich and poor alike into a pot and divided it equally, in 10 years, the same talent would be rich again"

    Really? Surprised at your certainty given that it's never been attempted.

    Though you'd probably be correct if the imbalances in education, opportunity, health etc weren't also magically set to equal at the same time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 456.

    Putin the criminal welcomes money to Russia.Socialist France has made a stupid decision

  • rate this

    Comment number 455.

    So Russia offers a safe haven to a rich actor who doesn't want to pay taxes imposed by a socialist government. Having lived through the Cold War it's not surprising that some of us are a little confused.

  • Comment number 454.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 453.

    How the world has turned. Now the Russians are the free market capitalists, and the west the big government, nanny state socialists.

    Will we see the collapse of the bankcrupt EUSSR as it's citizens flee corruption and state control for the bright lights of the East and the chance to make a life for themselves as a result of their individual efforts !!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 452.

    actors (some of you here need to learn what they do) contribute almost nothing to the betterment of world society.
    they are of the sphere of play and imagination ~ much like adult children.
    the contributions of one nurse or one teacher are worth the sum contributions of 1000 actors.
    this man is a classic example of the complete narcissist who thinks he does something worth being done.

  • rate this

    Comment number 451.

    Singapore and Poland have flat tax rates (15 to 20 %) and hardly felt any effect of the economic crisis. It is also a fact, as already stated that over a certain % tax, government reciepts actually fall due to a range of factors. Another point about equality, if we all threw all our money, rich and poor alike into a pot and divided it equally, in 10 years, the same talent would be rich again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 450.

    Francoise Hollande should remember his French history. Jean Baptiste Colbert, the French Economist and Minister of Finance under King Louis XIV of France. 1619-1683, famously said this:

    “The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing”

    Gerard Depardieu is hissing!

  • rate this

    Comment number 449.

    If GD gets paid 2 million euros, he has to use it in some way or it depreciates. Why should the French government get to choose how GD's money is spent? If they are so good with money, they should have plenty of their own to spend. All the socialists are doing is making France more affordable for future capitalists, same as every socialist government does wherever they are in "power".

  • rate this

    Comment number 448.

    I like this Hollande chap. Keep up the good work monsieur. ( and let see the flood of the rich and wealthy flock to London )


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