Putin gives Depardieu hug and passport
Russian president, Vladmir Putin, grants French actor, Gerard Depardieu, Russian citizenship following a tax dispute in his home country.PT0M0S 620 349
GERARD Depardieu, the actor fleeing high taxes in France, has arrived in Russia by private aircraft to claim his new Russian passport, possibly from President Vladimir Putin himself.
A spokesman for Mr Putin said that the two men would meet in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, where Depardieu has been a jury member at the local film festival.
At whatever point he receives the papers, Depardieu will become a Russian citizen, liable only for a flat 13 per cent income tax rate, compared with the 75 per cent on income over €1 million ($A1.25 million) he would be likely to pay in France.
Gerard Depardieu Photo: AFP
A French court temporarily suspended the top tax rate, but the government is expected to reinstate it.
If radio talk shows and internet commentary are any guides, the move will make him a compatriot of a great number of disillusioned fans. The Russian intelligentsia, one of the world's remaining bastions of French film lovers, are also among the most vocal critics of Mr Putin.
''He became a Russian citizen to replace the 3 million Russians who have escaped Russia in the Putin era,'' satirist Viktor Shenderovich said on the Echo of Moscow radio station.
Depardieu recently professed his love for Mr Putin and calling Russia ''a great democracy''.
''He is impressed by our democracy - he has completely lost his marbles,'' wrote Facebook user Vladimir Sokolov.
On Friday, another French screen legend, Brigitte Bardot, threatened to apply for Russian citizenship if two ailing elephants were euthanised in a zoo in Lyon. Bardot has long been an outspoken animal rights activist. In an interview in the newspaper Nice-Matin on Saturday, she praised Mr Putin for his concern for the welfare of animals.
NEW YORK TIMES, AFP