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Gerard Depardieu: legendary actor and aspiring Russian oligarch?
Legendary actor Gerard Depardieu, who last year acquired Russian citizenship to protest tax rates in his native France, paid 6 percent in taxes on his 2013 Russian income, "Izvestia" reports.

The Kremlin-friendly paper's May 30 report quoted a tax expert who said a self-employed individual like Depardieu would pay Russia's low rate, which is available for income up to 60 million rubles, or about $1.7 million. Russia has a 13 percent flat tax on income.

After offhandedly offering citizenship to the French actor at a press conference, President Vladimir Putin hand-delivered a Russian passport to Depardieu in January 2013.

Depardieu had been feuding with French President Francois Hollande over his 75 percent tax on salaries above 1 million euros, and the actor registered as a resident of a town in Belgium that borders France and renounced his French citizenship. Depardieu then registered as a resident of the republic of Mordovia, about 650 kilometers east of Moscow, at the address of No. 1 Democracy Street in the republican capital, Saransk. (The region is otherwise best-known as the place where the women from Pussy Riot were imprisoned.)

The Russian paper quoted the the deputy chief of the region's tax service, Sergei Shalyayev, who declined to give the actor's total income but said that he had filed his tax return on time.

Depardieu's tax update comes amid widespread economic debate about how much the rich should pay in taxes. French economist Thomas Piketty has caused a sensation worldwide with his book "Capital In the Twenty-First Century," arguing for a global tax on wealth to prevent the rich from accumulating fortunes.

It is unclear how much time Depardieu is actually spending in Mordovia. The media and information minister of the region, Valery Maresyev, told "Izvestia" that the actor's last official visit was in May 2013 and that none of his purported plans for a cultural center or cafes has been realized.

Depardieu's publicist, Francois Hassan Guerrar, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

-- Luke Johnson
Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh
Russian state TV reported that controversial far-right politician Dmytro Yarosh was leading Ukraine's May 25 presidential election, even though by all indications he wasn't even close.

Displaying figures purportedly taken from Ukraine's official election website, Channel One anchorwoman Irada Zeinalova announced that Right Sector leader Yarosh was comfortably ahead in the race, with more than 37 percent of the vote.

The report was illustrated with a screenshot of a website adorned with the title "Ukraine's Presidential Election" that appeared to be from the official Central Election Commission.

The announcer acknowledged that the figures, coming as the vote was still being counted, were rather "strange."

"It's unclear what it means -- because it is radically different from exit poll data by four pollsters," news anchor Zeinalova said. "According to exit polls, Petro Poroshenko is leading with 55.9 percent."

Perhaps the strangest thing is how such obviously questionable figures could be broadcast on Russian national television.

Ukrainian media reported shortly before the vote that the Central Election Commission website had been targeted by a cyberattack.

Interfax news agency quoted Ukrainian officials as saying on May 26 the information about Yarosh's alleged lead "was prepared in advance" by hackers, and was "stored on Russian Internet resources."

In the end, official preliminary results showed Yarosh far out of the running after receiving slightly above 1 percent of the vote. With votes from more than half of the precincts counted on May 26, Poroshenko was in position to win in the first round, with nearly 54 percent.

Yarosh, 42, is a nationalist leader, known for his anti-Russian remarks. He calls Russia Ukraine's "eternal foe," and has said a war between Russia and Ukraine is "inevitable."

Right Sector's page on the Russian social-networking site VKontakte has called on Doku Umarov, a Chechen militant and Russia's most-wanted terrorist, to intensify "his fight" against Russia.

Moscow accuses Yarosh of publicly calling on anti-Russian forces to orchestrate terror attacks against Russia, and Russian media frequently refers to him as being a fascist.

In March, Russia requested Interpol to arrest Yarosh. A Russian lawmaker has even called on Russian security services to assassinate Yarosh.

The Twitter hashtag #YaroshBusinessCard (#ВизитнаяКарточкаЯроша #ВизиткаЯроша) emerged in April after the Russian news site LifeNews claimed a Yarosh business card was found at the scene of a deadly shoot-out in eastern Ukraine.

-- Farangis Najibullah

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About This Blog

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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