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Putin signs decree granting Russian citizenship to Gerard Depardieu

January 03, 2013, 12:27 UTC+3

According to Putin, “top-ranking French officials did not mean to insult Depardieu, and most likely this is just an unfortunate misunderstanding”

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MOSCOW, January 3 (Itar-Tass) — Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree granting Russian citizenship to Gerard Depardieu. The text of the decree was placed on the official website of the head of the Russian state.

"The application for Russian citizenship by Gerard Xavier Depardieu, born in France in 1948, is granted under Article 89, Item “a” of the Constitution of the Russian Federation," the decree said.

On December 20, Putin made it clear he was ready to positively settle the issue.

“Russia enjoys very good relations with France and we set a high value on that,” he said at his big news conference in reply to the query about famous French actor Gerard Depardieu who had applied for the Russian citizenship.

France “holds a special place” for Russia, he continued, specifying that this refers to the economic sector, as well as to the social and political ones. “Although France is a NATO member country, we more often find mutual understanding,” the Russian leader noted.

In that connection he expressed hope that “no decisions in that sphere will affect our relations”. According to him, “top-ranking French officials did not mean to insult Depardieu, and most likely this is just an unfortunate misunderstanding”. However, it is well known that “it is easy to hurt an artist’s feelings”.

Depardieu says he is a “man of the world,” Putin continued. “We have very good relations with him,” the president stressed, expressing confidence that Depardieu “considers himself Frenchman and he is going through rather difficult times at the moment”.

Replying specifically to the question, Putin said that if Depardieu “wants to have residence permit or the Russian passport, than the issue is as good as settled”.

"Let Depardieu come; we have a 13-percent income tax; we're not going to change it," the Russian president said at a meeting with business representatives.

In December Depardieu said he was giving up French citizenship after France's prime minister called his decision to change the place of residence "pathetic."

The famous actor said he had paid 145 million euros in taxes in France in the past 45 years, and that had never evaded his duties to the state.

In 2013, the French authorities plan to introduce a 75-percent income tax on the rich who earn over one million euros a year. The measure is part of the fiscal/tax program expected to boost the state's revenue by 13 billion euros in 2012-2013.

Le Monde had reported that Depardieu had considered the citizenship of three countries: Russia, Montenegro or Belgium. These are Belgium, where he recently purchased real estate, Montenegro where he has friends and business ties, and Russia, according to the newspaper.

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