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 527.

    There seems to be a nasty outbreak of envy spreading across certain countries.
    As someone said the other day : "The rich are all those people making more than me".
    I reckon that Hollande and Obama are focussing on "the rich" because they haven't got the guts to take the difficult decisions to sort their economies out. The UK liberal party is just as bad and the Conservative party not far behind.

  • rate this

    Comment number 526.

    @516 well you must have chosen some pretty bad areas to live in. Yes there are social problems, immigration issues etc in certain parts of some cities like Paris and Marseilles but it is not half as bad as you make out. I have been here 5 years now and visiting regularly for 30 years. It still has world class healthcare, good education and far better quality of food than UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 525.


    "But France is stuck in the past. Go there - apart from some white elephant, prestige projects it's full of dingy towns, pot-holed roads, "HLM" council flats, grubby retail stores, & scruffy cars."

    Hmm very different from the France that I visit! Methinks you have mistaken France for somewhere else" Historical towns must be a novel concept and as for potholes show me where!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 524.

    If I go shopping there are costs; I can chose, depending on what I want and can afford. Tax is buying from the government so why does their price change because of what I earn, it's a service; but I have to buy no choice, and pay THEIR price. I fail to see why politicians need complex legalised extortion systems to support spending. M. Hollande is creating tax martyrs. But who will be next? US!

  • rate this

    Comment number 523.

    To *edswed*, 1 million tax for 2 million earning would be a 50% rate not 75% as it is currently in France.
    I am all for taxing higher earners more, however there must be a limit and 75% is probably beyond what is acceptable.
    What is shameful is the amount of money certain people are earning compared to the rest of us, but that is another story.

  • rate this

    Comment number 522.

    Perhaps those who may have benefited from the tax now not being paid by monsieur Depardieu should stop paying to see his movies. Then he won't be making millions and he can stop whining about his taxes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 521.

    Good Luck to him in Russia! Just hope he never loose any penny frozen in the Siberia.

  • rate this

    Comment number 520.

    I hope all those low earning Frenchmen (and -women) will still be proud of their national treasure, the great patriot soon to become Gerard Gerardovich Depardievich (?) Pity that Putin is choosy and doesn't want the low-income French, so they're stuck in la belle France. But Жерар should be careful with his black-belt friend, Володя, if he doesn't want to be Khodorkovsky's cell mate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 519.

    My respect for Depardieu has gone to zero. How is he being punished when he still has over 200k EU to scrape by on? I hope he runs afoul of Putin's goons and winds up in prison there. France is the birthplace of modern democracy. Holland is resisting the global race to see who can treat their workers the worst. Russia is a kleptocracy rapidly following the US into third world status.

  • rate this

    Comment number 518.

    Depardieu is a self made man - no matter whether you think he deserves his money or not - you won't see many more of those in France. After a raise in taxes to 75% I'm sure he's not the only rich person leaving the country. He's just the only famous one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 517.

    GD has made a perfectly rational decision.

    Hollande didn't hide the fact he was planning a 75% tax and the French people voted for it. So it doesn't matter that the court knocked back the tax. The point is that the French people have shown they're willing to rob 'the rich' blind and so he'd be a fool to hang around and wait for Hollande (and the French voters) to have another go.

  • rate this

    Comment number 516.

    "Do you live in and pay tax in France? are you qualified to make such sweeping...statements?"

    I lived in France for 2 full years & paid tax there (& my other visits there adds to up around another year). I've seen France & the French slide into mediocrity & poverty over the last 20 years - with every return visit I see visible degradation. No longer a "great" country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 515.

    Obama is trying the same thing in America that is why he refused any deal - his opposition wouldn't raise taxes.

    fiscal cliff meant automatic tax increases and the Bush tax cuts expire
    when people complain he can blame it on the Republicans

  • rate this

    Comment number 514.

    While some of us are forced to live in the country for more than five years to be granted a citizenship, it’s good to see that some people can reject one passport and get another in a matter of a second. I remember on a trip to Russia that my visa was stamped according to the departing time of my flight. It’s all good to see the sort of planet we leaving on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 513.

    512 Its political leadership seems thoughtful and prudential.
    Either you have never been there or you are part of that thoughtful and prudential (sic) system.

  • rate this

    Comment number 512.

    Leaving M. Depardieu's special case aside, from a more general point of view, Russia may be a very good place to settle. It is a vast country with bountiful resources, and a literate, educated population. It has excellent medical specialists, fine universities, and a rich culture - high culture and popular culture. Its political leadership seems thoughtful and prudential.

  • rate this

    Comment number 511.

    Wasn't Rasputin super-skinny?

  • rate this

    Comment number 510.

    13% - can I have Russian Nationality too?

  • rate this

    Comment number 509.

    When George Harrison wrote "Taxman" the Beatles' royalties were being confiscated (one might stay, legally stolen) by the UK government. The UK state learned its lesson & moderated its tax grabs.

    But France is stuck in the past. Go there - apart from some white elephant, prestige projects it's full of dingy towns, pot-holed roads, "HLM" council flats, grubby retail stores, & scruffy cars.

  • rate this

    Comment number 508.

    #502 'Make it fair, and people won't try to avoid it.'

    In your dreams. A billionaire would avoid a 5% tax if the costs of the accountants and lawyers was significantly less than the cost of the tax. If you earn £20M, a million will still buy you an accountant's time. Payments to a private bank in Lichtenstein; no probs. Have your wife in Monaco ? No probs.


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