07 January 2013

RUSSIA / FRANCE : 08 Jan UPDATE: Depardieu Passport Delivered...Putin Wins Propaganda War; Bershidsky Commentary.


     President Vlad Putin's offhand press conference offer...to deliver a hard to get Russian passport...to French tax exile actor Gerard Depardieu...turned into a PR coup for Moscow... when the famously rotund actor flew to Sochi and accepted the document...and citizenship.
     Multi-millionaire actor Depardieu even got a job offer from the bleak but gulag rich province of Saransk...besides the advantage of a low 13% flat tax rate...available for only 6-months annual residence.
      Worth an estimated $200 million...Depardieu so resented a recent President Hollande proposal to tax France's riche at 75%...that he angrily put his $66 million Paris mansion on the market...and decamped for nearby Belgium.
     Russian media had wall to wall coverage of the foto-op 'event'...the Putin Sochi lunch and embrace...all captured for national and worldwide consumption.
    But...the PR effort may sully French/Russian relations...already weakened after the controversial Pussy Riot trial and jailings.
    !NEW LINK !  Commentary with more details by Russian editor/novelist Leonid Bershidsky.
      'Giving Russian citizenship to an old drunk fleeing taxes in his country is an incredibly wise and effective move'...and a 'case of provincial complex'...claims sarcastic Russian analyst Belkovsky.