Depardieu in Moscow after getting citizenship

Updated 06 January 2013
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Depardieu in Moscow after getting citizenship

MOSCOW: French actor Gerard Depardieu arrived in Russia yesterday to meet with President Vladimir Putin after getting Russian citizenship to avoid paying higher taxes in France.
“Mr. Depardieu arrived in Sochi as part of a private visit. We expect him to meet Vladimir Putin tonight,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told AFP, adding that it was possible that Depardieu, 64, would receive his new passport during the meeting.
Putin on Thursday granted Depardieu citizenship, following the announcement by the disgruntled French movie star that he intended to quit his home country to avoid paying a new millionaires’ tax.
The Kremlin’s move — and subsequent comments by Depardieu professing his love for Putin and calling Russia “a great democracy” — sparked amusement, disbelief and a heavy dose of irony inside Russia.
“He is impressed by our democracy — he has completely lost his marbles,” wrote one Facebook user, Vladimir Sokolov.
Russia’s move to grant citizenship to the star of Cyrano de Bergerac, Green Card and the Asterix and Obelix series was the latest volley in a highly publicized row between the actor and the French government over its attempt to raise the tax rate on earnings of more than one million euros ($ 1.3 million) to 75 percent.
When Depardieu first announced he would leave the country to avoid the tax, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault branded the move “pathetic”.
Depardieu, who can easily earn up to two million euros per film and who has extensive business interests in France and elsewhere, will qualify for the 13 percent tax rate if he spends at least six months of the year in Russia.


Russia says US building ‘visa wall’ after Bolshoi dancers denied entry

Updated 21 min 46 sec ago
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Russia says US building ‘visa wall’ after Bolshoi dancers denied entry

  • The Foreign Ministry expressed regret over the United States’ decision to refuse visas to Russian prima ballerina Olga Smirnova and soloist dancer Jacopo Tissi.
  • Russian Foreign Ministry: “They are trying to fence off Americans from Russians with a visa wall, as we’ve said before, making trips of our citizens to the USA practically impossible.”

MOSCOW: Russia said on Saturday the United States was trying to fence off Russians with a “visa wall” after two Bolshoi ballet dancers were refused visas to perform in New York.
The Foreign Ministry expressed regret over the United States’ decision to refuse visas to Russian prima ballerina Olga Smirnova and soloist dancer Jacopo Tissi, who were due to perform at a Lincoln Center gala.
“This did not happen even during the Cold War,” the ministry said in a statement on its website.
“But today, influential forces in the USA, preoccupied with trying to pressure Russia hard, do not stop at anything... They are trying to fence off Americans from Russians with a visa wall, as we’ve said before, making trips of our citizens to the USA practically impossible,” it said.
Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre said it could not comment because it did not organize the tour and had no information on the visa applications.
“Since the work visa was also not issued on time for Jacopo Tissi, an Italian national, we would like to think that this was related to procedural formalities and not to the current political tensions,” its press office said in emailed comments.
The US embassy in Moscow did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
On Friday, Kremlin said the United States was deliberately making it difficult for Aeroflot crews to obtain US visas, after the Russian foreign ministry said it could not rule out the possibility that flights between the two countries might have to be halted because of the situation.