French actor Gerard Depardieu holds his Russian passport (Photo: ITAR-TASS / Stanislav Krasilnikov)
IT'S JUST LIKE GREEN CARD
The (very!) unlikely heartthrob abandoned his home country in protest of French President François Hollande’s plans to levy 75% tax rate on those making more than €1 million a year—up from the current 41%. In early January, Depardieu flew to Russia (it’s the Germany to his David Hasselhoff , apparently), where President Vladiimir Putin gave him a big hug, bought him dinner, issued him a Russian passport and offered him a free apartment in Saransk, a small town just outside of Moscow where, like all Russian residents, he would be subject to a flat 13% income tax rate. Apparently this is some kind of loss for the French, who for some reason love this guy, despite his penchant for drunk driving and punching people. (To be fair, he does play the beloved Obelix in the movies.) And sadly, it’s also a win for Russia, which can finally regain the Hollywood star power it lost in 1986 when Yakov Smirnoff emigrated to the United States. Depardieu says he hasn’t decided where he’ll live yet, but said he doesn’t want to live in Moscow, preferring a small village. Sure, no one wants to pay 75% of their income in taxes, but if you’re in the bracket where that’s even possible and you’ve managed to avoid it, do you need a country with 13% poverty rates giving you a free place to live? Avoiding populated areas is probably a good idea, Gérard.