3 January 2013, 20:58

Depardieu is a friend - Putin

Depardieu is a friend - Putin

As part of France's austerity measures an attempt was made to introduce a 75% tax on the richest French citizens. One target of this tax was famous French actor Gerard Depardieu who was then embroiled in a row with the French authorities. In the end Depardieu renounced his French citizenship and was granted Russian citizenship by President Putin. Is this the beginning of a mass-migration of wealthy Europeans to Russia?

The President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin has granted Russian citizenship to French actor Gerard Xavier Depardieu under Article 89 of the Russian Constitution according to a brief statement issued on the Official Site of the President of Russia.

Under Article 89, point (a) of the Constitution of the Russian Federation the President of the Russian Federation has the right to grant citizenship and political asylum to Russian nationals, foreign citizens and stateless individuals.

Further powers and more specific laws defining the president’s authority come under a November 28, 1991 “Federal Law On Citizenship of the Russian Federation", amended by the Judiciary on the 17th of June 1993 and a Federal Law dated February 6th 1995. Article 33 of the Act defines the specific powers of the President and states that the President decides on: granting Russian citizenship to foreign nationals, citizens of the former Soviet Union and stateless persons. The President also decides on the restoration of Russian citizenship, the revocation of citizenship, permission to have dual citizenship and the issuing of honorary citizenship. The President exercises these powers by issuing Presidential Decrees.

Presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has stated that the decision by President Putin to grant Mr. Depardieu Russian Citizenship was due to his substantial contributions to the development of Russian culture and cinema. Mr. Peskov stated that Depardieu played in a number of very famous feature films about Russian history and performed many roles depicting important Russian historical figures, including work depicting Grigory Rasputin.

A promise to grant the French actor Russian citizenship was made during a recent press conference given by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said the promise was made due to the significant contributions to Russia’s national culture by Depardieu and his films.

After being granted citizenship the Depardieu camp has not yet issued an official statement but the story began with attempts by France to institute a 75% tax on the super-rich. Russia’s flat rate of 13% tax for all citizens was then seen as an attractive option for Depardieu who has stated publically that during his life he has paid over $191 million in taxes to the French state over the past 45 years. Something the state apparently does not value.

The new French tax which was to target people making more than €1 million a year was thrown out by France’s highest constitutional authority because it was to only target individuals and not households, meaning the law would only apply to 1,500 people and not affect those making just under €1 million a year.

Mr. Depardieu’s problems with the French authorities came to a boil when after announcing his plans to renounce French citizenship, his only recourse in the row, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault publically called Mr. Depardieu's actions "pathetic." To which Mr. Depardieu answered "I've no place to complain or to boast, but I refuse to be described as pathetic."

During a press conference that was covered by the VOR in December, President Putin called Mr. Depardieu a “friend” and said that "If Gérard really wants to have either a residency permit in Russia or a Russian passport, we will assume that this matter is settled and settled positively.”

Mr. Depardieu is very well known and loved in Russia and appears on billboards around Moscow and in ads for Sovetsky Bank. His films are some of the most popular in Russia and he has been very active in the Russian cultural scene over the years.

Russian media reports that Mr. Depardieu will soon begin working on several projects where he will star in adaptations Russian literary classics including the Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment and The Captain's Daughter by Alexander Pushkin.

In related news, upon hearing that Mr. Depardieu received Russian Citizenship, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin predicted the beginning of the migration of wealthy Europeans to the Russian Federation. Mr. Rogozin stated on his Twitter page that “In the West people have very poor knowledge of the Russian tax system but when they learn about it we can expect the mass migration of wealthy Europeans to Russia".

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