Putin greets new Russian citizen Gerard Depardieu
Depardieu's decision to leave France and immigrate to Russia follows a disagreement the actor had with French President Francios Hollande earlier in the month over Hollande's plans to implement a flat 75 percent income tax rate on earnings of more than one million euros. Such a high tax rate, Depardieu said, is akin to "spitting on success". The actor also said that he has been mistreated by the French media, according to The Telegraph.
Putin and Depardieu met in the president's Black Sea villa to discuss the actor's goals as a Russian citizen. During a December interview with Le Monde, Depardieu mentioned his growing interest in becoming a Russian citizen. Putin remarked in a subsequent press conference that the matter of the actor's citizenship "can be considered resolved positively". On January 3, Putin granted Depardieu Russian citizenship.
While Depardieu maintains that he will "remain French in his heart", he hopes to serve as a "spokesman" for other French millionaires who will be affected by Hollande's tax increase. The actors is well-known in Russia for his work in several national commercials, including one for ketchup. Depardieu was featured in a recent biopic about Russian monk Grigory Rasputin, The Telegraph reports.
Depardieu could stand to save a considerable amount of money through his Russian citizenship. Personal income tax in the country is a flat 13 percent - a far cry from France's proposed 75 percent for millionaires like Depardieu. The actor must spend at least 183 days in Russia over the course of a year, however, or he will owe 30 percent of his earnings to the Russian government.
Gerard Depardieu is not the only French actor seeking Russian citizenship. Brigit Bardot, another prominent French film star, has requested Russian nationality following the euthanizing of two elephants that suffered from tuberculosis in a French zoo.
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