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Transmission

'Green Card' Star Might Get A Red Passport

Vladimir Putin (right) with French actor Gerard Depardieu at the State Museum in St. Petersburg in December 2010.
Vladimir Putin (right) with French actor Gerard Depardieu at the State Museum in St. Petersburg in December 2010.
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It is one of the roles that helped make him an international superstar. In the 1990 hit movie “Green Card,” Gerard Depardieu played a Frenchman seeking to acquire permanent U.S. residence -- and win the heart of a beautiful woman.

Now 63, Depardieu is again seeking residence abroad, this time in real life -- and he’s looking eastward rather than westward.

Although much loved in France, the colorful bon viveur has stated that he is handing back his French passport and social security card after a public spat with Socialist Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

On December 12, the politician criticized Depardieu for wanting to move to lower-tax Belgium at a time when France must fight a huge national debt.

"He's a great star, everybody loves him as an artist," Ayrault said. "But settling right on the other side of the border is somewhat pathetic. All that in order to pay no taxes or less taxes."

Depardieu hit back, lambasting the government for punishing "success, creation, talent" and put up his luxury Parisian home for sale.

On December 19, he told French daily “Le Monde” that besides Belgium, he could already count on two more countries to host him -- Montenegro, where he has friends and business interests, and Russia. "[President Vladimir] Putin has already sent me a passport!" Depardieu said.

The Russian strongman half-confirmed Depardieu’s statement at his annual news conference in Moscow on December 20.

"If Gerard truly wants to have either a Russian residence permit or a Russian passport, let's consider this issue settled positively," he said.

Chechen Tax Haven?

In case Depardieu actually lays his hands on a Russian passport, he’s already been offered a safe (tax) haven in Russia's troubled North Caucasus republic of Chechnya.

On December 19, Chechnya’s iron-fisted ruler, Ramzan Kadyrov, wrote on Twitter that "If he [Depardieu] is given Russian citizenship, we are ready to accept the actor in Grozny. Welcome."

The French actor is no stranger to Grozny, which he visited in October to attend Kadyrov's birthday, following in the footsteps of other movie stars who attended the event in previous years.

Footage from the event shows Depardieu shouting from a vast stage in Russian: "Glory to Grozny! Glory to Chechnya! Glory to Kadyrov!"

However, it is not known whether Depardieu, who’s used to riding his scooter around Paris, sometimes after having a couple of glasses of wine, would be able to stomach the strict Islamic code of behavior imposed by Kadyrov on Chechnya.

-- Eugen Tomiuc, with contributions from Antoine Blua
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Comments
     
by: Anonymous
December 20, 2012 15:18
If depardieu merely moves to Belgium, Russia, Montenegro or other places for tax issues, that's really bad.

anyway, great news for russia's public relations management.
a western star choosing a Russian passport instead of a French one. sounds interesting.

an admirer of kadyrov, though? either deparideu is in for the money or it's a play of sarcasm. depardieu is supposed to know about human rights violations. he will certainly not opt for a residence in grozny. would be an easy target for radicals.

and montenegro? depardieu should watch out. in the end, some organizations linked to purportedly illegal activities may be inclined to take or at least make use of some of his financial assets.
well, maybe it's his way of contributing to the development of "emerging nations".

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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