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Why Gerard Depardieu became a Russisan citizen (+video)

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Depardieu said in his letter to Ayrault that he would surrender his passport and French social security card. In October, the mayor of a small Belgian border town announced that Depardieu had bought a house and set up legal residence there, a move that was slammed by the newly-elected Socialist government.

Though the two-year tax was struck down by France's highest court Dec. 29, the government has promised to resubmit the law in a slightly different form soon. On Wednesday it estimated that the court decision to overturn the tax would cost it €210 million in 2013.

France's debt burden is around 90 percent of national income — not far off levels that have caused problems elsewhere in the 17-country eurozone. In contrast to the proposed top French rate, Russia has a flat 13 percent tax on income.

Depardieu has made more than 150 films, among them the 1991 comedy "Green Card" about a man who enters into a marriage of convenience in order to get U.S. residency. Most famously, Depardieu was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as Cyrano de Bergerac in the 1990 film by the same name.

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

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