Thursday, January 10, 2013

Are French stars Depardieu and Bardot headed for Russia?


So what's gotten into Gerard Diepardieu?
Is it farewell to France, farewell and adieu?
He's moving to Moscow right out of the blue
And the lovely Bardot, will she follow too?
He says he must leave and he says he'll be fine
But what kind of Frenchman drinks vodka, not wine?
And who trades away all those clear Paris skies
For Putin's support and some dubious ties?

French film star Gerard Depardieu has apparently decided to leave the motherland.  The 64-year-old actor recently obtained Russian citizenship after meeting with President Vladimir Putin.  He has chosen to move away from France as a result of some serious issues with the government of French President Francois Hollande.  Hollande is a socialist but France has been governed by a socialist before - Francois Mitterand from 1981 to 1995.

Depardieu is angry over President Hollande's proposed 75 per cent tax rate for millionaires.  He prefers Russia's flat rate income tax of 13 per cent over the new tax on income over 1 million euros (1.3 million U.S.) that Hollande intends to levy in France. On January 3, 2013, the unhappy Frenchman was was warmly greeted by President Putin at the Russian leader's residence in the Black Sea town of Sochi, where next year's Winter Olympics are to be held.  The two men were shown shaking hands and hugging on the Russian state run television station, Channel One.

It's also worth noting that on January 8th, Depardieu failed to appear in court on drunk driving charges in Paris (He fell off his scooter last November and was charged with impaired driving). The actor's lawyer explained that he was in Montenegro preparing for his latest film in which he will portray disgraced International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Khan.  Instead, according to a report in London's Daily Telegraph, Depardieu met with Montenegro's prime minister, Milo Djukanovic and scouted for property to buy.

At a joint news conference In Montenegro with Prime Minister Djukanovic, Depardieu denied that he was trying to evade French justice and said that he would return to France.  He defended his absence from the Paris court hearing and his decision to receive a Russian passport.  He stated, "I'm not a criminal.  I skidded on my scooter.  I fell asleep.  Even if I eat a salad with too much vinegar, I already have too much alcohol in my blood.""  As for the Russian passport, he declared, "Please don't think that I want to collect passports.  I am a citizen of Europe.  I live in Europe.  My dream is to be a citizen of the world."  First Depardieru will have to deal with the drunk driving charges.  His hearing will now be deferred to a criminal court where he faces the loss of his licence and up to two years in prison.


Animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot has been threatening to follow in Depardieu's footsteps and seek a Russian passport too.  Althoug Bardot and Depardieu have disagreed in the past over Depardieu's enthusiasm for bullfighting, she supports his lastest actions and claims he is a "victim of extremely unfair persecution."  La Bardot's issue with President Hollande is quite different, though.  The former actress and fashion model is extremely upset over the fate of two sick Asian elephants in a Lyon zoo.  She is calling on Hollande to save the animals from death by lethal injection.

The elephants, Baby and Nepal, were banished from a circus for bad behaviour in 1999.  In 2010, they were diagnosed as TB carriers and are thought to be infected with the human form of tuberculosis.  According to French law, herds of farm animals must be destroyed if they are even suspected of carrying tuberculosis.  The problem is that no clear law exists for wild animals such as elephants.  The French Council of State (Conseil d'Etat), therefore, has agreed to rule on the matter and the animals cannot be killed until the council has rendered  a judgement.  If  it decides that that Baby and Nepal should be put to death, Bardot and her supporters are counting on Hollande to save the elephants.

Meanwhile, a petition has been circulating on the Internet since January 4, 2013 calling on President Holland to intervene rescue the elephants.  It has over 80,000 signatures.  Click on the link below to view the petition.

Brigitte Bardot has offered to cover the costs of removing the elephants from the wildlife park in Lyon, including their upkeep and veterinary bills.  If the elephants die. the 78-year-old  vows to obtain a Russian passport.  She will leave her seafront villa in Saint Tropez. and move to Russia.even though Russia has an abysmal animal rights record.  Another French film star, Catherine Deneuve, has expressed solidarity with Gerard Depardieu and Bardot.

Although Gerard Deparieu has a right to live where he chooses, it's difficult to fathom why anyone would want to leave democratic France for Putin's Russia, even to avoid taxation.  Depardieu, Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve have all led privileged lives in France and they have indulged in very luxurious lifestyles.  They are not being asked to relinquish all of their wealth and status.  Russia, under former KGB agent Vladimir Putin, is a very autocratic state.  Why don't they talk about giving back something to France in return for what France has given them?  It remains to be seen if either Depardieu or Bardot will ever actually live in Russia on a permanent basis.  Somehow, I doubt it.

- Joanne