Gerard Depardieu: French actor, in tax fight, gets Russian citizenship

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The Kremlin statement gave no information on why Mr. Putin made the citizenship grant, but the Russian president expressed sympathy with the actor in December, days after Mr. Depardieu reportedly said he was considering Russian citizenship.

“As we say, artists are easily offended, and therefore I understand the feelings of Mr. Depardieu,” Mr. Putin said.

Although France and Russia disagree sharply about how to resolve the civil war in Syria, the two countries have strong commercial relations. In 2011, Russia signed a contract worth more than 1 billion euros ($1.33 billion) Friday to buy two French warships — the largest military deal between a NATO country and Moscow.

Mr. Depardieu is well known in Russia, where he appears in an ad for Sovietsky Bank’s credit card and is prominently featured on the bank’s home page.

Mr. Depardieu is not the only high-profile Frenchman to object to the supertax. Bernard Arnault, chief of the luxury goods and fashion giant LVMH who is worth an estimated $41 billion, also has said he would leave for Belgium.

France’s Civil Code says one must have another nationality in order to give up French citizenship because it is forbidden to be stateless. Thursday’s decision by the Kremlin appears to fulfill that requirement.

• Lori Hinnant reported from Paris. Silvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this article.

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