French film star Gérard Depardieu has officially become a Russian resident, bringing to a close his much-publicized bid to avoid his homeland’s proposed new 75% top income tax rate. The 64-year-old Life of Pi actor is registered as living at No. 1 Democracy Street in the city of Saransk, the capital of the Russian republic of Mordovia, around 400 miles east of Moscow, reports ABC News.
The father of four traveled to Saransk on Saturday to pick up his residency papers and was photographed touring a cheese factory and local poultry farm. The next day he flew to Grozny, the capital of the Chechen Republic, and was filmed shaking a tail-feather with its controversial Kremlin-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
“A lot of things have been said about Chechnya, that it’s a difficult region and so on, but I wanted to come for myself to see,” said Depardieu, who went on to say that he plans to shoot a film in the war-torn territory, claims the U.K. Guardian.
Depardieu caused outrage in France in December when he asked Russian President Vladimir Putin if he could be granted citizenship in order to enjoy the country’s 13% flat tax rate. He had already become an official resident of Néchin, Belgium, on Dec. 7, 2012, to escape what he considers the punitive levies of his homeland.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault labeled Depardieu’s decision seek residency outside his own country “pathetic,” and the French public has also been upset by how blasé he seems about renouncing the country of his birth.
Depardieu, a star of more than 170 films who also owns vineyards, shops, restaurants and a diverse collection of art, was unapologetic. “I am to be neither pitied nor praised, but I reject the word ‘pathetic,’” he said, according to The New Yorker. “I was born in 1948, I began working at 14 as a printer, a warehouse worker, and then as a dramatic artist. I have paid 145 million euros [$190 million] in taxes over 45 years. No one who has left France has been injured as I have.”