Thirty years ago, the USSR was better known as the "Evil Empire." Fast forward to today, when its successor Russia, is apparently the "Tax Free Empire", and less socialist than France, at least to infamous millionaire expatriate Gérard Depardieu, who as reported previously has paid €145 million in taxes over 45 years, and who demonstratively decided to give up his French passport in the wake of France's socialist 75% millionaire tax (subsequently ruled unconstitutional), and as of today, has just been granted Russian citizenship.
From AFP, pretty much in its hilarious entirety
Gérard Depardieu, the French actor who has waged a battle against a proposed super-tax on millionaires in his native country, has been granted Russian citizenship.
A brief announcement on the Kremlin website revealed that President Vladimir Putin signed the citizenship grant on Thursday.
The former Oscar nominee and star of the movie “Green Card” has been vocal in his opposition to French President François Hollande's plans to raise the tax on earned income above €1-million ($1.33-million) to 75 per cent from the current high of 41 per cent.
“I have never killed anyone, I don't think I've been unworthy, I've paid €145-million in taxes over 45 years,” Mr. Depardieu wrote in an open letter in mid-December to Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who had called the actor “pathetic.”
“I will neither complain nor brag, but I refuse to be called `pathetic,” Mr. Depardieu wrote in his response.
A representative for the former Oscar nominee declined to say whether he had accepted the Russian offer and refused all comment. Thursday was a holiday in Russia and officials from the Federal Tax Service and Federal Migration Service could not be reached for comment on whether the decision would require Mr. Depardieu to have a residence in Russia.
Mr. Depardieu said in his letter to Mr. Ayrault that he would surrender his passport and French social security card. In October, the mayor of a small Belgian border town announced that Mr. Depardieu had bought a house and set up legal residence there, a move that was slammed by the newly-elected Socialist government.
Though the two-year tax was struck down by France's highest court Dec. 29, the government has promised to resubmit the law in a slightly different form soon. On Wednesday it estimated that the court decision to overturn the tax would cost it €210-million in 2013.
Mr. Depardieu has made more than 150 films, among them the 1991 comedy “Green Card” about a man who enters into a marriage of convenience in order to get U.S. residency. Most famously, Mr. Depardieu was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as Cyrano de Bergerac in the 1990 film by the same name.
The Kremlin statement gave no information on why Mr. Putin made the citizenship grant, but the Russian President expressed sympathy with the actor in December, days after Mr. Depardieu reportedly said he was considering Russian citizenship.
“As we say, artists are easily offended and therefore I understand the feelings of Mr. Depardieu,” Mr. Putin said.
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And now we have a new goal in life: to see the day Warren Buffett hands over his US passport and becomes a resident of Nizhny Novgorod, dressed in a shuba and driving a Lada 1600.
In the meantime, here is Depardieu conveniently dressed as Rasputin: