MOSCOW | Thu Jan 3, 2013 6:34am EST
(Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has granted citizenship to Gerard Depardieu, the French movie star who quit his homeland to avoid a tax hike on the rich, the Kremlin said on Thursday.
The “Cyrano de Bergerac” star moved across the border to Belgium last year to avoid the tax increase planned by Socialist President Francois Hollande and Putin said he would be welcome to Russia.
“If Gerard really wants to have either a residency permit in Russia or a Russian passport, we will assume that this matter is settled and settled positively,” Putin told a news conference last month.
The Kremlin’s website said on Thursday that Putin had signed a decree granting Depardieu citizenship. The wording of the statement suggested the 63-year-old actor had applied for it. An assistant to Depardieu declined to comment.
France’s Constitutional Council last month blocked the planned 75 percent tax rate on income over 1 million euros ($1.32 million) – but Hollande plans to propose differently worded legislation which will “still ask more of those who have the most”.
(Reporting By Megan Davies; Additional reporting by Catherine Bremer in Paris; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)