FRENCH film star Gerard Depardieu received a hug from President Vladimir Putin and a new Russian passport yesterday after abandoning his homeland to avoid a new tax rate for millionaires.
Putin signed a decree on Thursday granting Russian citizenship to Depardieu, who has fumed over French President Francois Hollande’s plan to impose a 75 per cent tax rate.
The two men were shown on state television shaking hands and hugging in the Black Sea resort of Sochi yesterday during what the Kremlin said was a private visit by the actor to Russia.
“A brief meeting between the president and Depardieu took place,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “On the occasion of his visit to Russia, he was handed a Russian passport.”
Peskov did not say if Putin personally gave him the passport. Depardieu also told Putin about his career plans, he said.
Depardieu’s best known international film is Green Card, about a poor French immigrant who enters a sham marriage so he can stay in the United States.
Putin said last month that Depardieu would be welcome in Russia, which has a flat income tax rate of 13 per cent, compared to the 75 per cent on income over €1m (£813,000) that Hollande wants to levy in France.
He offered Depardieu the Russian passport saying he had developed warm ties with the actor – even though they had rarely met.
City A.M. Reporter