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Gerard Depardieu granted Russian citizenship by Vladimir Putin

January 03, 2013|By Christie D'Zurilla

Gerard Depardieu now has Russian citizenship, courtesy of President Vladimir Putin, who Thursday delivered on a promise made a couple of weeks ago.

Russia's main state-run TV station broadcast an open letter reportedly from the "Green Card" star (via the BBC), saying, "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."

The actor is well-known in Putin's country. "You have to understand that Depardieu is a star in Russia," Vladimir Fedorovski, a Russian writer living in France, told the network Europe 1 on Thursday. "There are crowds around Depardieu. He's a symbol of France. He's a huge ambassador of French culture."

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Depardieu, an Oscar nominee and one of France's most familiar faces internationally, bought a home in Belgium in early December and reportedly inquired about Belgian residency in reaction to French President Francois Hollande's plans to raise the tax on earned income above 1 million euros (about $1.33 million) to 75% from the current high of 41 percent. 

"I have never killed anyone, I don't think I've been unworthy, I've paid 145 million euros in taxes over 45 years,” the 64-year-old wrote in another open letter in mid-December responding to Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who had called the actor's decision to move to Belgium "rather pathetic."

Ayrault told a French TV station, "He’s a great star, everyone loves him as an artist,” but added, “to pay a tax is an act of solidarity, a patriotic act.”

It didn't sit well with Depardieu, who replied that he refused to be called pathetic and was renouncing his French citizenship. 

"I am handing over to you my passport and social security, which I have never used," Depardieu said. "We no longer have the same homeland, I am a true European, a citizen of the world, as my father always taught me to believe."

Last Saturday, France's top court ruled the 75 percent tax rate unconstitutional, but the actor told French newspaper Le Parisien, as recounted by the Wall Street Journal, "It changes nothing." Indeed, the government has promised to resubmit the law soon in a slightly different form.

Depardieu wouldn't have to reside in Russia to maintain his citizenship there, a Putin spokesman told the Journal. "It is entirely up to him," the spokesman said.

Under French civil code, the BBC said, it is legal to have dual citizenship but not legal to be without a country. A person must obtain citizenship elsewhere before giving up French ties.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Follow Christie D'Zurilla on Twitter and Google+. Follow the Ministry of Gossip on Twitter @LATcelebs and on Facebook facebook.com/ministryofgossip.

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