Gerard Depardieu

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Gérard Depardieu has gotten a big gift from Russia, with love.

The embattled actor, who has publicly vowed to renounce his French citizenship in protest over the country's high taxes, has been granted Russian citizenship by President Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin made the announcement on its website Thursday, noting that the Russian leader has signed an executive order bestowing residency privileges on the Life of Pi actor.

A rep for the 64-year-old star refused to confirm whether the actor had accepted the offer, per published reports, but Depardieu had in the past hinted that Russia was one of the countries he was considering fleeing to, which also reportedly included Montenegro and Belgium.

A Kremlin spokesman claimed that Depardieu had applied for Russian citizenship after Putin said in a news conference last month that he would be open to granting a residency permit to the actor.

Depardieu nabbed headlines in early December after getting into a war of words with French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault over the country's high taxes, and he later threatened to give up his French citizenship to move to Belgium.

"I never killed anybody, I do not think I'm unworthy, I paid 145 million in tax in 45 years, I have 80 people working in companies that were created for them and which are managed by them," the actor wrote in an open letter to the French prime minister that ranted about how Depardieu was paying an 85 percent tax on his assets in France.

Looks like the actor might wanna start brushing up on his Russian now, da?


UPDATE Jan. 8, 2013: Depardieu failed to show up for a hearing in French court stemming from a drunk driving charge against him after he crashed his scooter in Paris last November while driving over the legal limit. Per the BBC, the actor's lawyer said he was in Montenego shooting a film. Now that the case has been postponed a second time, it's being sent to criminal court which could mean a harsher penalty if he's found guilty.

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