PARIS -

French actor Gerard Depardieu has denied accepting Russian citizenship to escape the taxman in France.

In an interview Monday on L'Equipe 21 sports channel, he said:  "I have a Russian passport, but I remain French and I will probably have dual Belgian nationality. But if I'd wanted to escape the taxman, as the French press say, I would have done it a long time ago."

Depardieu received his Russian passport from President Vladimir Putin on Saturday.

The film star has caused an uproar in France by saying in mid-December that he's turning in his French passport over an insult from Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault who called him "pathetic" for deciding to move to tax-friendly Belgium.

France's new Socialist government wants to steeply raise income taxes on the wealthy.