Russians mock Kremlin decision on Depardieu passport
Russians mock Kremlin decision on Depardieu passport
In a letter broadcast on Russian television on Thursday, the former Oscar nominee declared his love for President Vladimir Putin and called Russia a “great democracy.”
“He is impressed by our democracy — he has completely lost his marbles,” wrote one Facebook user, Vladimir Sokolov.
Far-left politician Eduard Limonov suggested Depardieu could reprise his famous film role of French revolutionary Georges Danton and risk detention by riot police at a regular unsanctioned rally against Putin.
“Gerard, come to Triumfalnaya Square on January 31 with your new Russian passport in your pocket,” Limonov wrote on his blog.
“Our French friend: here’s an invitation to a real historical role.”
Depardieu seemed unlikely to take up this offer after Putin praised their “very friendly, personal relationship” at a recent news conference.
Many jokingly speculated about how the film star might adapt to life as a pensioner if he moved to Russia after threatening to renounce his French citizenship over a proposed 75-percent tax rate on the super rich.
If Depardieu, 64, opted to live in Russia more than half the tax year, he would pay just 13 percent tax to the government whose budget is highly dependent on state-owned energy resources.
“We’re going to meet him pushing a trolley in the shop, in the queue for blood tests at the polyclinic or at the social security office,” wrote journalist and blogger Anton Orekh on the website of popular Moscow Echo radio station.
As a Russian, he now qualifies for a respectful patronymic and can be addressed not as Monsieur Depardieu, but Gerard Renevich, because his father’s first name was Rene, Orekh added.
“I’m ready to let him register as a resident in my apartment, he can stay as long as he likes,” wrote television host Tina Kandelaki on Twitter.
Depardieu, like other Russian citizens, would have to register his place of residence with local authorities.
Yet some also questioned the morality of Russia fast-tracking Depardieu’s citizenship request.
His public opposition to paying high taxes in France showed he “loves money more than motherland,” wrote Orekh.
“Let’s give our passports to everyone who has lots of money and doesn’t want to pay taxes at home!” he said, contrasting Depardieu’s experience with that of ordinary applicants who spend years going through complex red tape.
Poet Lev Rubinshtein warned Depardieu on Facebook that if he chose to pay taxes in Russia, they would go to “gorillas with batons who joyfully beat up young men and women and old ladies.”
Russia has used Depardieu’s request to preen itself over what it sees as an endorsement of its economic policies.
“Depardieu’s case shows that financial and economic stability are often the most important factor in choosing a country not only for investors but for artists, too,” former economic development minister and now head of Russia’s largest savings bank, German Gref, told the Interfax news agency.
Meanwhile Depardieu’s threat to give up his passport over soaring tax demands has prompted much soul-searching in France.
Right-wing daily Le Figaro described the affair as a “bad farce” but stressed in a front-page editorial that “this 75 percent tax is an economic, political and diplomatic fiasco that we should not be smiling about.”
The canny PR stunt comes as Russia faces widespread international criticism over a recent decision to ban adoptions of Russian children by US citizens, and looks like an attempt to deflect public attention.
“Giving Depardieu citizenship is a strong PR move inside the country but it is the anti-orphan law that influences Russia’s image worldwide. This can’t offset that,” wrote Alexei Venediktov, chief editor of Moscow Echo, on his blog.
Putin last week signed a law banning US adoptions despite emotional appeals after Washington passed legislation targeting the Russian officials who were allegedly involved in the prison death of a lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky.
Chechen strongman makes Egypt’s Salah honorary citizen
- After his team crashed out of the World Cup, Egypt’s star player Mohamed Salah has won a consolation prize in the form of honorary citizenship of Chechnya
- Kadyrov, supported by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, rules Chechnya with an iron fist, drawing constant condemnation from human rights groups
MOSCOW: After his team crashed out of the World Cup, Egypt’s star player Mohamed Salah has won a consolation prize in the form of honorary citizenship of Chechnya.
Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov wrote on Telegram that he had presented the Liverpool star with the honorary title while hosting a dinner for the Egypt team, whose World Cup training base is in the Chechen capital Grozny.
“Mohamed Salah is an honorary citizen of Chechnya! That’s right!” Kadyrov wrote late Friday.
“Tonight I signed a decree to grant the high honor to the great footballer who plays for Egypt and Liverpool.”
Kadyrov, supported by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, rules Chechnya with an iron fist, drawing constant condemnation from human rights groups.
He is known as an ardent football fan and in 2013 took to the public address system during a match involving Chechen team Akhmat (formerly Terek) to publicly insult the referee.
Salah has been photographed smiling and clasping hands with Kadyrov during the tournament.
Egypt crashed out of the World Cup after losing to Russia 3-1 on Tuesday, with Salah returning to action for the first time in three weeks following a shoulder injury but unable to save his team. The Egyptians play their final match against Saudi Arabia on Monday.
Kadyrov said that at “a gala dinner that I gave for the Egypt team I presented Mohamed Salah with a copy of my decree and a lapel badge. This is a well-deserved honor!“
The Chechen leader has previously presented French actor Gerard Depardieu with the same honorary title.
He also said that he was confident that Akhmat would play a friendly with the Egyptian national team in Grozny at some future date.
Kadyrov said Salah had praised the “wonderfully warm and good welcome” the team received in Grozny.