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Gerard Depardieu arrives in Russia to receive his new passport from Vladimir Putin

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Gerard Depardieu has arrived in Russia, where he has been granted citizenship and a private meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

A Kremlin spokesman said Gerard Depardieu may receive his new Russian passport personally from the president.

The actor announced he was seeking Russian citizenship after the French government criticised his decision to move abroad to avoid higher taxes.

Last month Vladimir Putin had said he would be happy to welcome him to Russia.

President Vladimir Putin will hold a private meeting with the actor in the Black Sea resort of Sochi later on Saturday, his spokesman said.

Earlier this week President Vladimir Putin signed the decree granting Russian citizenship to Gerard Depardieu.

The actor responded by writing an open letter saying: “I love your country, Russia – its people, its history, its writers. I love your culture, your intelligence.”

Gerard Depardieu went on describe Russia as “a great democracy, and not a country where the prime minister calls one of its citizens shabby”.


Gerard Depardieu has arrived in Russia, where he has been granted citizenship and a private meeting with President Vladimir Putin

Gerard Depardieu has arrived in Russia, where he has been granted citizenship and a private meeting with President Vladimir Putin

Gerard Depardieu’s highly publicized tax row began last year after new President Francois Hollande said he would raise taxes to 75% for those earning more than 1 million euros.

The actor accused the socialist government of punishing “success, creation and talent”, and announced in early December that he would move to Belgium.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault branded his decision to move abroad as “shabby and unpatriotic”.

Gerard Depardieu, described by Vladimir Putin as a friend, has developed close ties with Russia, which has a flat 13% personal income tax rate.

He currently appears in an advertisement for Sovietsky Bank’s credit card and is prominently featured on the bank’s home page.

In 2011, Gerard Depardieu played the lead role in the film Rasputin, a Franco-Russian production about the life of eccentric monk Grigory Rasputin.

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