French tax-exile film star Gerard Depardieu was granted Russian citizenship today in a decision likely to strain the country's ties with Paris.
The Kremlin said that President Vladimir Putin had personally approved Mr Depardieu's (pictured) citizenship following an application from the actor, who refused to comment.
The row over the star's tax status kicked off in October when the mayor of the Belgian town of Nechin revealed he had bought a house and set up his legal residence there.
His flight of a few hundred metres from the French border was apparently a bid to avoid President Francois Hollande's plan to implement a 75 per cent tax rate on incomes over €1 million (£810,000). Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called the move "pathetic."
Mr Depardieu is very popular in Russia, which has a flat income tax rate of 13 per cent.