Yeah, yeah, have you heard the news today? The French rich, famous and eccentric have reared their entertainers’ head lately. Well, two of them at least. I’m referring to Gallic icons Gérard Depardieu and Brigitte Bardot. The French government has suggested a tax band of 75 percent for those who earn €1 million or more. Although these plans are not to become law, the colossus that is Depardieu has decided to go into exile out of protest against the proposed and now abandoned plans. And where might he be going? To….drumroll…. Russia. President Putin happily granted him a Russian passport.
Brigitte Bardot became world famous as an actress and piece of eye candy in the 1950s and since she went into retirement a few decades ago, she has devoted herself to animal welfare and made a few dodgy remarks regarding immigrants, Islam and gayness. Madame Bardot announced she is to follow in Depardieu’s footsteps and apply for Russian citizenship. Not out of dissatisfaction with any tax laws, but due to the treatment of two circus elephants. Come again? Yes, two elephants belonging to a touring circus caught tuberculosis and have been ordered by a court in Lyon to be put down as a precautionary measure. She claims that France has become an ‘animal cemetery’ and to escape this disgrace she is to apply for Russian citizenship.
It must be the millions, the booze in Depardieu’s case and old age in Bardot’s case that makes these people a tat delusional. I’m sure, a flat tax rate of 13 percent is highly attractive, especially if you have a lot of dosh and are besties with the president. But besides some more than decent literature and an impressive tradition of classical music, Russia is hardly a beacon of enlightenment. Russia’s record regarding human rights is not great, I doubt they treat animals any better. It might be an emerging economy many oil companies are dead eager to do business with, it is also very corrupt. Why Russia of all places? Why not a sunny, happy-go-luck country with low taxes, no scandals and plenty of sunshine? (Cayman Islands, anyone?).
It’s a free world, perhaps even free-er when you’re wealthy, and if you don’t like your country, you should be free to leave it and settle somewhere else. No country has a squeaky clean record, but some are considerably messier than others. It might be a pact with a devil called Putin. It might be a big fat effective, yet dubious publicity stunt. As an artist, making your money with the freedom of ideas and expression, it would’ve been far more stylish if the Gallic icons Bardot and Depardieu had selected their country of exile with more care and far more backbone.
top image: guardian, image left: now.msn.com