Foreign Policy Blogs

Welcome, Comrade Depardieu!

Welcome, Comrade Depardieu!

As a third of young Russian graduates consider fleeing Russia for better opportunities abroad, Putin has received a welcome boost to his deadly whataboutist arsenal. An enormous, large-nosed, drunk boost. Its name? Depardieu. He may not look like Dean Reed, but hey, it’s the best we can do for now.

‘Maybe some of our misguided hipsters want to leave’ the president can now triumphantly declare, ‘but meanwhile, one of your most successful and iconic  stars is clamoring to escape TO Russia! Who’s got the brain drain now?’

In December, Putin offered Russian citizenship to Depardieu after the cinema legend threatened to renounce his French citizenship over President Hollande’s plan to introduce a steep 75% income tax for the rich.

Today, the actor announced:

“I filed a passport application and I am pleased that it was accepted. I love your country, Russia – its people, its history, its writers. I love your culture, your intelligence”, missing out the bit about loving Russia’s flat 13% tax rate.

He then called Russia a ‘great democracy’. In fairness, Depardieu was probably, er, pissed at the time. Not only that, but he must have also been unaware of the new restrictions on alcohol sales!

But enough of this. As a fellow proud bearer of a Russian passport (not dual-citizenship), allow me to welcome the esteemed Frenchman into our rarefied world.

Here are just some of the wonderful pleasures that await this confirmed epicurean.

1) Needing to pay $100 and wait at least a week for a Schengen visa to go to Europe, even for a day. And you might want to also reconsider that weekend trip to New York…

2) Having to wait weeks or months for a replacement passport in case of loss.

3) Getting a complimentary body cavity search at the immigration queue of most international airports.

4) Compulsory military service for everyone up to 28 years of age in one of the world’s deadliest (to its own servicemen, that is) armies.

But look on the bright side:

– Visa free entry to such top tourist destinations as Belarus, Burma, Syria and Guinea Bissau; as well as to some of the world’s most sought after unrecognised breakaway enclaves: Transdniestria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia!

– No more agonising decisions about who to vote for in the presidential elections!

– Many embassies still have awesome Soviet mosaics and other retro relics on the inside!

– No danger of being exploited  by a romantic partner for your passport!

– No one will ever try to steal your passport!

So, welcome to our club, Comrade Depardieu!



Vadim Nikitin

Vadim Nikitin was born in Murmansk, Russia and grew up there and in Britain. He graduated from Harvard University with a thesis on American democracy promotion in Russia. Vadim's articles about Russia have appeared in The Nation, Dissent Magazine, and The Moscow Times. He is currently researching a comparative study of post-Soviet and post-Apartheid nostalgia.
Areas of Focus:
USSR; US-Russia Relations; Culture and Society; Media; Civil Society; Politics; Espionage; Oligarchs