When I was just a precocious wee little tyke – as mischievous as I am now (though perhaps just a tad bit more sober) - I was often teased by my older sister and would run off whining and complaining to the nurturing comfort of my mother. Subsequently, my mother would threaten my sister with promises, empty ones of course, to sell her to gypsies or ship her off to Russia.
Even at that time (early 90′s), such threats – assuming they were spoken with serious intent (and again, in this context, they obviously were not) – would have been laughable if only I had any knowledge or notions of Russian impotence and the political scenario after the fall of the Berlin Wall. I knew nothing of such things at such a young and tender age, but I saw the movie Red Dawn, grew up enthralled by the anti-Soviet exploits of James Bond, and tried to impress every adult around me by reading (unsuccessfully) cold war fiction like the works of Tom Clancy. I didn’t understand a goddamn word, but I came to learn a simple and undeniable truth that, when consumed and digested at an early age, distorts your perception and perspective for years to come: the Russians are evil bastards. I’m glad to see this statement still holds some degree of sense years later, when I see movies like Eastern Promises and………X-Men.
However, in today’s economy, and if you’re a millionaire (or just a money-grubbing asshole), heading east-ways over to great Mother Russia may not be such a bad idea. This has recently been exemplified by renowned French actor Gerard Depardieu.
This past weekend, Putin granted citizenship to the actor and welcomed him with open arms, which must have seemed very welcoming indeed given that Depardieu was fleeing the 75% tax rate imposed by France’s socialist government for those who earn over $1.3 million a year.
I know – the rich have it so tough.
How appealing does Russia appear to those who no longer want to pay taxes? Well, with a flat tax rate of 13%, Russia is a pretty goddamn tax-friendly place. Their system is nothing new, it’s actually been in place for years now. Their model is certainly one to envy and perhaps even emulate, though that is highly unlikely to ever occur. Taxation isn’t the problem here in the West – spending is.
As Gwynne Dyer puts it, “going Russian opens up a huge new opportunity for avoiding burdensome taxation.”
Depardieu, who is one big red medicine ball of a man, appears to be disguising his true decision for a new Russian residence with flowery, sycophantic language. They look pretty close when I saw the footage on Sun News TV of their embrace of one another, but seeing Depardieu next to Putin is like placing a shot glass next to a keg. It’s convenient that Russia is the country with such amicable taxation; it may be the only country on the globe spacious enough to contain Depardieu’s physical person.
Pandering to Putin, Depardieu extolled that he adores Russia; their people; their history; their writers. Fair enough – Tolstoy is good but Dostoyevsky can kiss my Ukrainian piss-hole.
“Russia is a country of great democracy,” he even said.
Well, I’m not entirely sure where Depardieu was during that whole Pussy Riot fiasco in February of last year, where a couple of the Moscow-based band members were arrested and charged with hooliganism – a move that was essentially indicative of dictatorial censorship. Clearly, Putin is nothing short of disdainful towards dissenters, and he is certainly no friend to freedom of speech.
Usually I sympathize with alcoholics, being such a sociable drinker myself, and I would be even more amenable to a man who admits, “When I’m stressed, I still drink five or six bottles of wine a day. When I’m relaxed, three or four, but I’m trying to cut down. You think alcohol calms you down, but you become addicted to it.”
What foresight – a true prophet for the ages.
What a wino! He may be an accomplished wine-maker, self-confessed alcoholic, and all that bullshit, but it really must be nothing more than the high tax burdens in France and subsequent financial gains prompting his emigration to Russia; last time I checked, Russia wasn’t exactly known for their fucking wine-making skills. The man better get ready for his baptism by vodka.
Depardieu’s move may also have ignited somewhat of a trend amongst other French notables. Sex symbol Brigitte Bardot is also threatening her government with a request for Russian residence, although it’s not burdensome taxation motivating her decision – it’s animal cruelty.
Bardot’s pissed at the idea of having two circus elephants, both of which are suffering from tuberculosis, euthanized.
“If those in power are cowardly and impudent enough to kill the elephants, then I will ask for Russian nationality to get out of this country which has become nothing more than an animal cemetery.”
A noble sentiment, to be sure. However, the idea that Russia is some kind of animal sanctuary is almost comical. Lest we forget that ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) was founded in 1866 by one Henry Bergh, a man who had been appointed by President Lincoln to hold a diplomatic post in Russia.
The significance of that? He was so disturbed by the incidents of cruelty done to animals in that country that he set about establishing himself as a forerunner of animals rights in the US.
I keep hearing things like “Russia was the first country to ban the hunting of polar bears on its entire territory”, but is it not also accurate that Russia purchases more animal furs than any other country in the world?
Yes, I know – Russia is fucking cold. But goddammit, buy synthetics, would you?
Admit it, Bardot, you’ve got your eyes on that 13% flat tax rate, not animal rights. Let’s take the elephant(s) out of the room here, so to speak. I’d welcome you here to Canada, but the presence of seal-clubbing would probably drive you to (another) manic episode.
I hate taxes just as much as the next person, but I aint taking my ass eastwards to Russia. I drink enough vodka here as it is, and those guys would undoubtedly laugh at my (lack of) tolerance. I’m also in the preliminary stages of ordering myself a fine young blonde mail order bride.
Why go to Russia when you can have the Russia come to you?