Moscow (AFP) – Veteran actor Gerard Depardieu who fled his native France in protest over a new wealth tax is now paying a rate of only six percent in his newly adopted country of Russia, the Izvestia daily reported Friday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin granted Depardieu a Russian passport in 2013 after he left France in protest at having to pay a 75-percent tax rate.

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A court in Ecuador has sentenced former President Jamil Mahuad in absentia to 12 years in jail for embezzlement.

The ruling comes two days after Interpol issued a warrant for his arrest. He denies any wrongdoing.

Mr Mahuad fled to the United States in 2000 after a military coup.

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Energy giant Exxon Mobil Corp’s drilling operations in Russia, as well as its alliance with Russian oil company Rosneft, have not been affected by the Ukrainian crisis or sanctions levied against Russia by the United States, according to Exxon’s CEO.

“We’re extremely proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in Russia,” Exxon Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson said at the company’s annual shareholder meeting. “They’ve been very good partners for us.”

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There has been a significant rise in the numbers of migrants reaching Europe in recent months, the BBC has learned.

The number of people attempting the dangerous sea crossing from North Africa to Italy has risen sharply, says Frontex, the EU border agency.

From January to April, 42,000 migrants were detected on these routes, with 25,650 of these crossing from Libya.

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Valerie Plame doesn’t deny that blowing the cover of the CIA station chief in Afghanistan is a serious matter. It’s just that, discussing the issue at a Wednesday evening forum sponsored by The Atlantic, Plame seemed to view the outing of the CIA’s top spy on the front lines in the Afghan war as more of an embarrassment than an outrage.

“My understanding is … it was a military aide who compiled this list of those that were greeting the president when he came,” Plame said. “Colossally stupid, but I think it was inadvertent. It was an error … really stupid. The White House apparently has said that they’re going to do an investigation, and they’ll find someone who’s really embarrassed at the end of it.”

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