Russian Filmmakers Criticize Decision to Grant Citizenship to Gerard Depardieu

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Director Stanislav Govorukhin calls the famous French actor “just another drunk.”

MOSCOW - Russian filmmakers are less than impressed with President Vladimir Putin's decision to grant Russian citizenship to French actor Gerard Depardieu.

In first reactions, they made scathing remarks about Putin’s Thursday decree.

Late on Thursday, the web site of TV station Channel One published a letter from Depardieu in response to the news. In the letter, addressed "to Russian journalists," Depardieu said that he “adores” Russia, its people and culture and promised to learn Russian. "I filed a passport application, and I am pleased that it was accepted," he said.

Depardieu also suggested overnight that he had spoken with French President Francois Hollande on Thursday. The president's office confirmed to the Agence France Presse that the conversation took place, but declined to comment on the content.

Meanwhile, two well-known Russian filmmakers criticized Putin's decision.

“I understand this has to do with [Depardieu’s] tax ruses,” Oscar-winning director Vladimir Menshov was quoted by radio station RSN as saying. “Why be joyful that he will now pay taxes to Russia? That doesn’t make him a Russian patriot.”

Veteran film director and parliamentarian Stanislav Govorukhin, who was Putin’s chief of staff for the recent presidential elections, was even more critical. “Just another drunk,” he said. “I don’t like ingratiation with foreigners. Of course, this is trickery.”

Meanwhile, getting a Russian passport does not necessarily mean that Depardieu will now be able to pay taxes at a Russian flat rate of 13 percent. That rate would only apply to his Russian earnings and only if Depardieu spent at least 183 days in Russia during a calendar year, tax consultant Kirill Nikitin was quoted as telling newspaper Izvestiya.

Rhonda Richford contributed to this report.