French stars consider Russian move

Gérard Depardieu and Brigitte Bardot make protest plans.

by Jennie Kermode

Two of France's biggest film stars are contemplating moving to Russia, it emerged this week. Gérard Depardieu continues to protest a new tax on high earners whilst Brigitte Bardot is angry about the treatment of two circus elephants in Lyon.

Depardieu has already moved his main residence to Belgium to avoid the 75% tax, which was recently struck down by a French court for technical reasons but may yet be reinstated. Seemingly unphased by accusations that he is a traitor to France, where he continues to own a vineyard, he met with President Putin on Thursday and received a Russian passport. The two have met before and refer to each other as friends, though the meeting seems fortuitous for Putin at a time when he is seking to allay concern over tax issues in his own country. A recent change in Russian law aims to stop the profits from Russian-based businesses being moved offshore, while increasingly tight restrictions on cinema distribution aim to stop Russian film fans spending all their money on foreign movies. The prolific Depardieu is now involved in a Russian film production.

Meanwhile, Brigitte Bardot, who made her last film in 1973 but remains a national icon, is threatening to move to Russia if two elephants, Baby and Nepal, are euthenised. The elephants are believed to have tuberculosis, which is treatable but which could present a danger of infection to humans caring for them, while they could not continue to bring in money for their owners. Tuberculosis has been an issue of increasing concern in France since the abandonment of universal vaccination in 2007.

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