In an odd turn of events, Gerard Depardieu has been granted Russian citizenship after the actor renounced his French citizenship over his disagreement with a proposed tax hike in France.
Russian President Vladimir Putin approved Depardieu's application for citizenship. The new was announced on Thursday, January 3, according to The Associated Press. Putin expressed sympathy for the actor's situation in December, after Depardieu reportedly said he was considering becoming a Russian citizen.
A spokesperson for Putin told The New York Times that Depardieu had applied for citizenship and that it was granted because of his cultural achievements. The newspaper also quotes a letter Depardieu reportedly wrote to a Russian television station where he said that he was "happy" the citizenship was granted.
The move comes after Depardieu criticized his country over proposed tax hikes. French President Francois Hollande plans to raise the tax on earned income above 1 million Euros ($1.3 million) to 75 percent from the current 41 percent, the wire service reports. In contrast, Russia has a flat 13-percent tax rate.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called Depardieu "pathetic" after the actor criticized the tax hikes. Depardieu responded in an open letter and said, "I have never killed anyone, I don't think I've been unworthy, I've paid 145 million Euros ($190 million) in taxes over 45 years ... I will neither complain nor brag, but I refuse to be called 'pathetic'."
It was in that letter that Depardieu said he would surrender his passport and French social security card.
Depardieu is perhaps best known in the United States for his role in the 1990 comedy film "Green Card," which earned him a Golden Globe. He played a foreigner who marries an American woman, portrayed by Andie MacDowell, so he can stay in the United States legally.
The actor is known for films such as "Cyrano de Bergerac," which earned him an Oscar nomination, "Jean de Florette and the 1998 movie "The Man in the Iron Mask," which saw him play the musketeer Porthos alongside main star Leonardo DiCaprio. He also starred in the 2007 film "La Vie en Rose," which earned Marion Cotillard an Oscar.