Actor Gerard Depardieu refutes reports that he's Russia-bound over proposed French tax increase
Don't bust out the champagne and baguettes in celebration just yet, France. Despite reports to the contrary, actor Gerard Depardieu doesn't plan to abandon his native country for Russia.
The "Green Card" actor, who was reportedly planning to move to Russia after receiving citizenship — and a passport — from Russian president Vladimir Putin, said in a new interview that he will likely opt for dual citizenship between France and Belgium.
(At left, the actor shows off his new Russian passport.)
The actor, 64, has been protesting a proposal to increase the tax rate on income over $1 million to 75 percent, from its current rate of 31 percent. In late December, he reportedly set up residency in a Belgian town bordering on France.
A letter purporting to be written by the actor, and published by French newspaper Le Monde last week, indicated that he would live "at the edge of the birch forests" in Russia.
But in an interview with sports channel L'Epique (via Reuters), the actor said that if he were planning to abandon France over its tax laws, he already would have done so.
"I have a Russian passport, but I remain French, and I will probably have dual Belgian nationality," Depardieu said. "But if I'd wanted to escape the taxman, as the French press say, I would have done it a long time ago."
The actor was blasted over his tax protest late last year by French prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who called Depardieu "pathetic."
Depardieu, meanwhile, claimed to have paid nearly $200 million in taxes throughout his career — an amount that he clearly feels is more than adequate.
"I have never killed anyone, I don't think I've been unworthy, I've paid €145 million (about $190 million) in taxes over 45 years," Depardieu seethed in an open letter to Ayrault in December.