Depardieu denies becoming Russian

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

In an interview 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 caused an uproar in France by saying last month that he was giving up 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 increase income taxes on the wealthy.