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Gérard Depardieu Might Be Russia’s Newest Citizen

It’s not unusual to hear people claim they’ll leave the country if a candidate they don’t like gets elected, or a policy they disagree with gets passed. Usually that’s just talk though, but when Gérard Depardieu said he would leave France because he thought he was being taxed too highly, he meant it. He fled to Belgium last month, and has today been granted Russian citizenship. I wonder if this will affect the chances of a sequel to 1994’s My Father the Hero.

Depardieu has not said publicly yet if he will take Vladimir Putin up on his offer of Russian citizenship, but it’s not the only offer on the table. Depardieu has also been courted by Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the Russian republic of Chechnya. Depardieu also has an in with Uzbekistan, since he will be starring in a movie written by the daughter of that country’s president. Everybody wants a piece of Depardieu.

Many Americans may not be too familiar with Depardieu’s work unless they took French in high school and had to watch his version of Les Miserables, or The Return of Martin Guerre, but they might know him from that time he peed in the aisle of a plane in 2011, or last November when he was arrested for drunk driving on a scooter. That’s the guy these countries are trying to win over. He’s sort of like France’s Lindsay Lohan.

The tax rates in Russia are lower than those in France. Depardieu says that 85 percent of his income goes to pay French taxes. Russia has a flat income tax of 13%, which is far lower even than the break he would get in Belgium where he would be taxed at 60%.

If taxes are the only thing Depardieu is worried about, then it’s a pretty clear choice, but he should also probably look into how strict Russian laws are regarding peeing on airplanes and drunkenly riding scooters, just to be sure he’s not getting into anything he can’t handle.

Russia has a history of losing wealthy and famous citizens to the Western world. Most notable they lost Robin Williams to America in the 1984 film Moscow on the Hudson, so Putin would see Depardieu taking Russian citizenship as a real win.

(via The New York Times, image via Luca Ciriani)

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Glen is a comedian, writer, husband, and father. He won his third-grade science fair and is a former preschool science teacher, which is a real job.