The Straits Times
Published on Jan 04, 2013

Putin makes French film star Depardieu a Russian


MOSCOW (REUTERS) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has granted citizenship to Gerard Depardieu, the French movie star whose decision to quit his homeland to avoid a tax hike prompted accusations of national betrayal.

The "Cyrano de Bergerac" and "Green Card" actor bought a house across the border in Belgium last year to avoid a new tax rate for millionaires planned by France's Socialist President Francois Hollande, but said he could also seek tax exile elsewhere.

Mr Putin said last month that Mr Depardieu would be welcome in Russia, which has a flat income tax rate of 13 per cent, compared to the 75 per cent on income over 1 million euros (S$1.62 million) that Hollande wants to levy in France.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called Mr Depardieu's decision to seek Belgian residency "pathetic" and unpatriotic at a time when the French are being asked to pay higher taxes to reduce a bloated national debt.