Russian President Vladimir Putin has granted Russian citizenship to French film star Gerard Depardieu, wooing him to take a Russian passport with the promise of a 13 percent flat rate tax.
French actor Gerard Depardieu may have joked in December "Putin has already sent me a passport," but his words have now become reality as Putin personally presented the offer of Russian citizenship in a perfect PR move.
The BBC reported Depardieu responded to the offer by sending an open letter which was broadcast on Russian television. Depardieu wrote: "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."
Russia is one of three countries Depardieu is considering calling home, along with Belgium and Montenegro.
As in internationally recognized film star Depardieu has become the poster child of opposition to France's new tax rates which were due to be levied at 75 percent on incomes of over €1 million.
Digital Journal reported Depardieu's vocal opposition resulted in a public fall out with France's Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault who described Depardieu's purchase of a Belgium property to avoid French tax, as "shabby." Putin expressed his sympathy for Depardieu over the row, saying "An artist is easy to offend."
The French court overturned the controversial new tax rate at the end of December, but the current rate of 41 percent still makes the Russian rate of 13 percent eminently attractive.