Gerard Depardieu Granted Russian Citizenship By Vladimir Putin

Putin Grants Depardieu Russian Citizenship

Gerard Depardieu has been granted Russian citizenship by Vladimir Putin, after sparring with his native country over taxes.

The French-born actor recently bought a house in Belgium, close to the French border in an apparent attempt to avoid France's new top rate of tax.

The news was announced via the Kremlin's website and Twitter account:

Depardieu spoke out against the French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault last month after he was accused of moving to Belgium to escape paying higher taxes in his homeland.

The 'Green Card' star's move angered local politicians and Ayrault branded Depardieu unpatriotic for his actions, saying: "Going just over the border, I find that fairly pathetic. Being a Frenchman means loving your country and helping it to get back on its feet."

Gerard Depardieu has made more than 150 films

In a letter to the press, in which he accuses the French government of punishing the wealthy, Depardieu - who claims to have handed over more than $190 million (£118.75 million) in French taxes throughout his lifetime - stated: "Pathetic, you said pathetic? How pathetic is that? I am leaving because you believe that success, creation, talent, anything different must be sanctioned..."

Depardieu also vowed to give up his French citizenship after inquiring about Belgian residency, writing: "We no longer have the same homeland. I sadly no longer have a reason to stay here (in France). I'll continue to love the French and this public that I have shared so much emotion with... Who are you to judge me, I ask you Mr. Ayrault, prime minister of Mr. Hollande? Despite my excesses, my appetite and my love of life, I remain a free man."

France's socialist President Francois Hollande imposed the tax increases after taking office earlier this year.

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