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Why French Movie Star Gerard Depardieu Is Now -- Suddenly -- a Russian Citizen Reuters

French film star Gerard Depardieu, who has denounced his homeland, suddenly became a Russian citizen Thursday, Reuters reports. The Kremlin announced that Russian President Vladimir Putin had granted citizenship to Depardieu, according to the report.

The actor is leaving France to avoid a tax increase on the rich, according to the Kremlin.

“The ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ actor bought a house across the border in Belgium last year to avoid a new tax rate for millionaires in France planned by Socialist President Francois Hollande but said he could also seek tax exile elsewhere,” the story reports. “Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Depardieu had applied for citizenship after Putin told reporters last month that he would be welcome in Russia. ‘The citizenship could not have been granted to him without (such an) appeal,’ Peskov said.”

The Kremlin also announced on its website that Putin had signed a special decree granting citizenship to Depardieu.

“Russia has a flat income tax rate of 13 percent, compared with the 75 percent on income over 1 million euros ($1.32 million) that Hollande wants to impose in France,” Reuters reports. “The 63-year-old Depardieu told friends he was considering three options to escape France's new tax regime: settling in Belgium, relocating to Montenegro, where he has a business, or fleeing to Russia, French daily Le Monde reported in December.”

Depardieu, who was recently seen in “Life of Pi,” reportedly plans to relinquish his French passport and social security card. It was unclear whether the actor would actually be moving to Russia. Depardieu’s assistant declined to comment for the story.

Gerard-Depardieu.jpgGerard Depardieu