“France is sad and I think the French are fed up,”Depardieu said in an interview with local Belgian televisionchannel Notele. “The lack of conviction… It seems that thegovernment doesn’t know how to do its job.”In regards to his acceptance of President Vladimir Putin’s offerof Russian citizenship and a new passport in 2012 and him alsosetting up a home in Belgium, the actor has denied all the rumorsthat it was done in order to avoid paying taxes in France.Although, he still called Hollande’s fiscal policy “a bit overthe top,” adding that in Belgium he pays 50 per cent tax.The 63-year-old star decided to move to the small Belgian town ofNechin on the border with France at about the time when Hollande’sSocialist government was gearing up to impose 75 percent tax onincomes over one million euros.Facing harsh criticism and accusations of tax evasion over themove, Depardieu renounced his French citizenship.“I’m still a Frenchman, and I love the French,” Depardieusaid. “My heart aches for them, because they ended up in such adifficult situation.”He was not in Belgium “to make money,” in fact thedeliciousness of local meat and close proximity of Nechin toParis’s Charles de Gaulle airport were the reasons that tempted himaway from France, the actor said.But sitting in front of the camera in a Russian tank top with adouble-headed eagle, Depardieu added “I am also a citizen ofRussia,” smiling and pointing to the golden eagle badge on hischest.The actor also shared his future movie career plans in Russiaand Chechnya assuring the audience that “Chechnya is not adictatorship. Kadyrov has problems in the form of local Taliban,and he tries to defend.”Depardieu visited Chechnya late February, where he was met bythe republic’s head Ramzan Kadyrov, who granted the actor thestatus of “Chechen’s honorable resident.”Depardieu officially became a Russian citizen back in January,receiving his passport during a short meeting with PresidentPutin.Meanwhile, having returned to Belgium, the actor iscontemplating setting up a restaurant in Nechin where he can spendtime with his local friends.
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