Such talk is encouraged by news that French actress Brigitte Bardot is also threatening to apply to Putin for a Russian passport, albeit for completely different reasons. Ms. Bardot, an ardent supporter of animal rights, is angry about plans by French authorities to euthanize two circus elephants thought to be carrying tuberculosis.
"In the West they badly understand the specifics of our tax system. When they do learn about it, you can expect a mass migration of rich Europeans to Russia," tweeted Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin on Saturday.
"If someone like Depardieu wants to be a Russian citizen, that's good. Putin made a beautiful gesture," by granting his wish, says Vladimir Zharikhin, deputy director of the the official Institute of the Commonwealth of Independent States in Moscow.
"If rich people want to come here, why not? Plenty of talented Russians, like the tennis player Maria Sharapova, live in the US but hang on to their Russian passports.... It's not just about patriotism, but also about money. So, let rich people rush here and pay that 13 percent to the Russian treasury," he adds.