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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Does Depardieu herald Russia as a new tax haven?

By Fred Weir





High tax rate? Russians pay a flat 13 percent


JewishWorldReview.com |

mOSCOW — (TCSM) French movie star Gerard Depardieu has returned to his native habitat in western Europe following a tumultuous Russia visit that has left behind a nation collectively scratching its head over the instinctively authoritarian Vladimir Putin's quirky decision to bestow Russian citizenship upon a cantankerous foreign tax rebel, and the equally odd spectacle of Mr. Depardieu accepting it amid a fusillade of lavish praise for Mr. Putin's regime.

Most analysts say the event was probably a big domestic propaganda win for Putin, who has been under criticism — even from members of his own government — for imposing a seemingly vindictive ban on US citizens adopting Russian orphans in response to US legislation that targets official Russian human rights abusers.



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Some suggest that Depardieu's move might trigger a wave of wealthy Europeans, disgruntled by ever-higher tax rates, to move to Russia where everybody pays a flat 13 percent income tax.

Such talk is encouraged by news that French actress Brigitte Bardot is also threatening to apply to Putin for a Russian passport, albeit for completely different reasons. Ms. Bardot, an ardent supporter of animal rights, is angry about plans by French authorities to euthanize two circus elephants thought to be carrying tuberculosis.

"In the West they badly understand the specifics of our tax system. When they do learn about it, you can expect a mass migration of rich Europeans to Russia," tweeted Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin on Saturday.

"If someone like Depardieu wants to be a Russian citizen, that's good. Putin made a beautiful gesture," by granting his wish, says Vladimir Zharikhin, deputy director of the the official Institute of theCommonwealth of Independent States in Moscow.

"If rich people want to come here, why not? Plenty of talented Russians, like the tennis player Maria Sharapova, live in the US but hang on to their Russian passports.... It's not just about patriotism, but also about money. So, let rich people rush here and pay that 13 percent to the Russian treasury," he adds.

But Rustam Vakhitov, head of tax practice at the Moscow office of International Tax Associates, a Dutch tax consultancy, says that if things were that simple, rich tax evaders would have been flocking to Russia since the flat tax was initiated about a decade ago.

"In principle it's possible that rich Europeans could manage to maintain residency in Russia," by utilizing loopholes to get around the six-month-per-year residency requirement to be eligible for the 13 percent rate, he says.

"But they'd have to spend a few months here. In practice, the number of Europeans who'd be willing to come and live in Russia is probably quite limited," by a variety of factors, including distance from Europe, lifestyle and language, he says.

"Some may come here. I'm not saying Russia's a bad place, but there are other countries that probably offer better terms," for wealthy tax fugitives, he adds.

Depardieu was shown over the weekend on Russian TV bearhugging and dining with a smiling Putin in the Kremlin leader's palatial Black Sea dacha in Sochi, where the 2014 Winter Olympic Gamesare slated to take place.

Later Depardieu visited the deep-Russian republic of Mordovia, where (perhaps not coincidentally) one of the members of the punk rock band Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, is serving her two-year sentence in one of the region's notorious penal colonies.

Mordovian officials greeted Depardieu like a visiting hero. Russian media reported that the French actor, who is planning to star in a film about the 18th century Russian peasant revolutionary Emilian Pugachov, was given a free apartment and offered the job of culture minister of the small, ethnic Volga River region.

And in a widely quoted open letter to Russian journalists, Depardieu declared that Putin's Russia is a "great democracy.... I love your President Vladimir Putin, and the feeling is mutual."

"I adore your culture, your intelligence. My father was a communist, listening to Radio Moscow! This is also my culture," he wrote.

"In Russia, there is a good life. Not necessarily in Moscow, which is too big a metropolis for me. I prefer the countryside, and I know wonderful places in Russia.... I like the press, but it is also very annoying because there is too often a single thought. Out of respect for your president and your great country, I have nothing to add," Depardieu wrote.

No opinion polls have yet detailed the Russian public's response to all this, but veteran pollster Alexei Grazhdankin, deputy director of the independent Levada Center in Moscow, says it will probably be mostly positive.

"We don't yet know how the population feels about this move of Putin's, but I believe the approval will be higher than the level of disapproval," Mr. Grazhdankin says. "Putin is a figure who crystallizes positive and negative attitudes."

Dmitri Oreshkin, head of the Mercator Group, a Moscow-based political consultancy, says the Depardieu visit to Russia, with its colorful political overtones, is a throwback to Soviet practices. Shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution, nearly a century ago, leading Western intellectual lights such as H.G. Wells, Bertrand Russell and George Bernard Shaw visited Russia, and brought back a largely sympathetic image of the new revolutionary state. Muckraking US journalist Lincoln Steffans famously returned from a trip to Soviet Russia declaring, "I have seen the future, and it works."

"This is a PR exercise, not too different from Putin's flight with the birds last September," aimed at countering negative views of Russia under his leadership, says Mr. Oreshkin.

"I recall in the 1980s the Soviet leadership gave Soviet citizenship and a Moscow apartment to a defecting American scientist, Arnold Lokshin," who claimed to be persecuted in the United States.

"Where is Lokshin now? I'm pretty sure Depardieu isn't going to want to come and live here, and this whole foolish business will blow over after a while," he adds.

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