From Russia with love – Gerard jumps ship
Gerard Depardieu, the French actor who says he is leaving his homeland to avoid higher taxes for the rich, has been presented with his new Russian passport while on a visit to Russia where he met President Vladimir Putin.
Mr Putin dined with Depardieu on Saturday night at the presidential residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, the Kremlin said yesterday.
"Being in the country, he was presented with a Russian passport," Mr Putin's spokesman told news agencies.
Depardieu appeared to embrace his new citizenship as he displayed his passport wearing a Russian folk costume and was entertained with traditional songs in the town of Saransk, east of Moscow.
Meanwhile, details emerged of an argument he had with the French President Francois Hollande earlier this month.
The actor has threatened to quit France for months over Mr Hollande's plans for a 75pc tax rate on all earnings over €1m.
But when Mr Hollande telephoned the actor on January 1, Depardieu accused him of "spitting on success".
Depardieu's friend Arnaud Frilley told France's RTL radio: "Gerard told him it wasn't the taxes themselves that sickened him, but he was sickened by the way France spits on success."
Depardieu is popular in Russia, where he has appeared in many advertising campaigns, including for ketchup. He also worked there in 2011 on a film about the Russian monk Grigory Rasputin, which he discussed with Mr Putin at their meeting. (© Daily Telegraph, London)