PARIS — French vet thesp Gerard Depardieu, who’s become a local pariah since relocating to Belgium to pay less taxes, was offered a Russian passport by President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.
The Gallic actor moved a few miles across the French border to dodge the Socialist government’s plan to raise the tax on earned income above €1 million ($1.3 million) to 75% from the current 41%.
The tax proposal was rejected by a French Court on Dec. 31 as unconstitutional but Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has pledged to reinstate it.
Belgium boasts more advantageous tax laws than Gaul while Russia offers a flat income tax rate of 13%.
Although a few high-profile personalities including thesps Catherine Deneuve and Gad Elmaleh have defended Depardieu, he’s been slammed by an avalanche of criticism from local media and politicians, notably Ayrault who called Depardieu’s decision to move to Belgium pathetic.
Reacting to the attacks, Depardieu reportedly said he felt “disgusted” by France and was ready to ditch his citizenship.
Depardieu has been one of Russia’s most popular foreign thesps for decades. He’s also proclaimed his love for the Russian culture on many occasions.
“I’m inhabited by the Russian soul. I’ve always loved Russian literature, its passionate characters and extraordinary tales,” Depardieu told Variety at Cannes in 2010 when he announced his role as the Russian monk Grigory Rasputin in a TV pic for pubcaster France Televisions.