Depardieu Heads East
The authorized biographer for Gerard Depardieu referred to his subject as being characterized by "animal-like brutality." That's the authorized scribe, mind you, for the hulking, apelike Gallic monstrosity. Do you dare to imagine what the unauthorized tomes might be saying? Given this, it was hardly any surprise at all to learn that Depardieu had renounced his French citizenship and defected to Vladimir Putin's Russia.
Putin and Depardieu are truly birds of a filthy feather. In 2001, TIME magazine reported that Depardieu was an unabashed serial rapist. It quoted him thusly: "I had plenty of rapes, too many to count. But it was absolutely normal in those circumstances. That was part of my childhood."
Come to think of it, the statement of Depardieu's biographer actually seems like quite an unfair and regrettable smear. Of animals.
Fast forward five years, and you find Vladimir Putin expressing his deep admiration for the sexual prowess of accused rapist and then Israeli president Ehud Olmert. Putin gushed: "I never would have expected it of him. He has surprised us all, we all envy him!"
Then Depardieu, like Putin before him, turned his glance to Chechnya.
As part of a visit in which he cuddled with and danced for one of the world's greatest living mass murderers, Ramzan Kadyrov the Chechen ruler and puppet of Putin, Depardieu declared breathlessly: "I have always been strongly attracted by the Russian temperament, because I myself also feel very, very much Russian. I adore Vladimir Putin, your president." Very, very much Russian indeed.
Depardieu declared that he wanted to make a movie (a "great film" in his words) in the Chechen capital of Grozny, apparently in order to help Kadyrov and Putin advance their bloody agenda of propaganda. No longer a European, Depardieu can be fully Russian in ignoring the long litany of convictions Russia has sustained in the European Court for Human Rights on counts of state-sponsored kidnapping, torture and murder throughout Chechnya.
Incidentally, Kadyrov is not the only post-Soviet lunatic Depardieu has cuddled to his bosom. He also recorded a sickening music video with the daughter of Islam Karimov, the homicidal dictator of Uzbekistan. What's more, he's agreed to star in a movie based on a screenplay written by Gulnara Karimova, who is viewed by the people of her country as an appendage of her bloodthirsty daddy and who has served pops as her country's ambassador to Spain.
The actor formerly known as French says he plans to build a house and open a restaurant in the remote Russian region of Mordovia. The move comes on the heels of his complaints to the French government about its astronomically high tax rates on the wealthy, whereas in Russia a flat tax rate obtains and the wealthy ostensibly pay the same regressive rate as everyone else.
In fact, Depardieu may well be aiming to pay no taxes at all, or even to start drawing piles of cash from the Russian treasury as compensation for a torrent of attacks on the West. In Russia, the most pathologically corrupt major civilization on the planet, it's easy for those finding the Kremlin's favor to avoid all forms of governmental inconvenience. For that matter, maybe he even wants "in" on the unchecked bloodletting going on in Kadyrov's Chechnya. For him that may be paradise on earth.
But France ranks #7 in the world for life expectancy, while Russia ranks #130. France ranks #25 for quality of life, Russia comes in at #105. France is #19 for per capita GDP, Russia is #53. So Depardieu may be in for a rather rude awakening in his newfound motherland.
If his house catches on fire, he'd better have access to private firefighters. If he gets sick, he'll need an airlift to another country where there are real doctors. He'll need to keep his pockets lined with cash to bribe any government official he meets, and he'll need a special laboratory, or a reliable importer, to keep him safe from contaminated domestic water and food.
There is no wine or cheese in Russia to speak of other than that which is imported, and in a place like Mordovia you need to be the importer yourself. No matter how rich you are, your money won't save you if one of Russia's rickety nuclear power plants explodes or one of its unregulated factories floods the skies or water table with toxic pollution. And while today the Kremlin may be your friend, tomorrow it could easily become your worst enemy. You will find no protection in the court system or any domestic mainstream media establishment capable of telling you the truth.
So have no fear, Depardieu will inevitably get justice, Russian style. Just like the Jack Reed, the BP oil company, William Browder and so many other foreigners who have tried to blindly tried to befriend Russia, Depardieu will be turned upon and learn to regret his choice.
The most recent example is offered by Professor Jeffrey Kahn of the Southern Methodist University Law School. In 2011 at the invitation of then-president Dmitri Medvedev he joined a team of nine foreign and domestic experts to review the arrest and conviction of oil baron Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Not only did the Kremlin ignore their conclusions, it launched a virulent attack on them. Kahn writes: "For their willingness to speak truth to power, at least four of my Russian counterparts have been questioned in connection with a criminal investigation. The court order used to harass them refers to their 'deliberately false conclusions'."
Follow Kim Zigfeld on Twitter @larussophobe.