Russian president Vladimir Putin gave French actor Gerard Depardieu a Russian passport on Sunday after he was granted citizenship on Thursday. The actor betrayed France for Russia over a plan by French president François Hollande to impose a 75% wealth tax on millionaires. As Reuters.com reports, Mr Putin and Depardieu met at a popular resort by the Black Sea and “were shown on state television shaking hands and hugging”.
Depardieu waved his new Russian before media cameras when he arrived in Saransk, a provincial town in the Mordoviya Republic, southeast of Moscow, to celebrate the Orthodox Christmas. He was greeted on the airport tarmac by local officials and women dressed in traditional Russian gowns who offered him bread and salt as well as “blini” pancakes. The governor suggested he settled down in Mordoviya, Itar-Tass reported. Residents also presented him with two kittens.
Mr Depardieu announced his intention to give up his French passport and leave the country shortly after Mr Hollande announced his plan to impose a wealth tax. Mr Putin said Mr Depardieu would be welcome in Russia at a press conference on December 20. A statement published last Thursday on the Kremlin’s website announced that Depardieu had been granted Russian citizenship. Russia charges a flat 13% income tax rate on its wages.