4 Jan 2013

Putin offers Gérard Depardieu Russian citizenship

The Kremlin's announcement that Putin had signed official papers granting Russian citizenship to French national hero Gérard "Gégé" Depardieu hit home. It also turned what had seemed a somewhat comic hissy fit between the actor and his government into an international spat. Hollande should have seen it coming. Ever since Depardieu, 64, entered the political ring to spar with his country's leadership over taxes weeks ago, this was a punch waiting to be landed.

Enraged at having his decision to leave France for fiscal exile in neighbouring Belgium described by French prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault as "shabby", Depardieu, star of the Hollywood film Green Card, had turned bellicose, threatening to give up his French passport. And there, given that France's civil code requires a citizen to have another nationality in order to relinquish being French, the melodrama might have ended, had Putin not joined the fray.

Gerard Rasputin

On Thursday Moscow praised the actor, saying Depardieu had earned his new passport for his contributions to Russian culture and cinema. Dmitry Peskov, Putin's press secretary, told the Interfax news agency that Depardieu's portrayal of Grigory Rasputin, notorious for the hypnotic power he wielded over Tsar Nicholas II's imperial family, in a new film was "daring and new".

The Guardian