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Why Gerard Depardieu became a Russisan citizen (+video)

Gerard Depardieu, the French actor, is opposed to paying 75 percent of his earnings above $1.33 million to the French government. Depardieu may avoid the proposed French tax hike if he is a Russian citizen.

By Jim Heintz and Lori HinnantAssociated Press / January 3, 2013

French actor Gerard Depardieu at the inauguration of fashion designer Ralph Lauren's new shop in Paris in 2010. Gerard Depardieu has been granted Russian citizenship by President Vladimir Putin on Jan. 3, 2013.

(AP Photo/Jacques Brinon, File)

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Moscow

Gerard Depardieu, the French actor who has waged a battle against a proposed super-tax on millionaires in his native country, has been granted Russian citizenship.

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A brief announcement on the Kremlin website revealed that President Vladimir Putin signed the citizenship grant on Thursday.

The former Oscar nominee and star of the movie "Green Card" has been vocal in his opposition to French President Francois Hollande's plans to raise the tax on earned income above €1 million ($1.33 million) to 75 percent 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 in taxes over 45 years," Depardieu wrote in an open letter in mid-December to Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who had called the actor "pathetic."

"I will neither complain nor brag, but I refuse to be called 'pathetic," Depardieu wrote in his response.

A representative for the former Oscar nominee declined to say whether he had accepted the Russian offer and refused all comment. Thursday was a holiday in Russia and officials from the Federal Tax Service and Federal Migration Service could not be reached for comment on whether the decision would require Depardieu to have a residence in Russia.

Depardieu said in his letter to Ayrault that he would surrender his passport and French social security card. In October, the mayor of a small Belgian border town announced that Depardieu had bought a house and set up legal residence there, a move that was slammed by the newly-elected Socialist government.

Though the two-year tax was struck down by France's highest court Dec. 29, the government has promised to resubmit the law in a slightly different form soon. On Wednesday it estimated that the court decision to overturn the tax would cost it €210 million in 2013.

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