Steven Seagal called Vladimir Putin one of the world’s great leaders. The Above the Law and Hard to Kill star told a Russian newspaper that he considered Putin to be a brother, and considered Putin’s annexation of Crimea as a very reasonable thing to do to protect the Russian speaking people there. Seagal also told a Moscow newspaper he may sometime seek to become a Russian citizen. The 61-year old actor called Obama’s policy on the Ukraine crisis idiotic. Seagal endorsed the annexation of Crimea by Russia shortly after the referendum held in March.
The Under Siege actor is no stranger to controversy. In 2007, Seagal claimed the FBI ruined his career by planting false accusations in the media that he terrorized journalists and associated with organized crime, according to an interview with the Los Angeles Times. He claimed the FBI was actively trying to discredit him. He told the Times that secret documents were leaked by the FBI. He claimed that such allegations make studio bosses nervous, thus ruining his career.
Steven Seagal was born in Lansing, Michigan and later moved to Los Angeles, where he began his career as a martial arts advisor on the set of the James Bond movie Never Say Never Again. He made his screen début in the highly successful film Above the Law in 1988. By 1992, he had four successful films including Under Siege, where he played a Navy Seal. His later films did not have the same box office success as his first four films, but he did return to the big screen in the 2010 film Machete.
The actor, who claims Putin is one of the world’s great leaders, may have an alternative reason to court Russia. Steven Seagal could be seeking tax refuge offered by Russia’s very favorable 13 percent tax rate. Actor Gerard Depardieu, the French actor best known in the US for his role in the movie Green Card, has recently immigrated to Russia. Depardieu, who was granted citizenship by Putin, may have been escaping France’s top tax rate of 75 percent. Depardieu claimed to have paid France over $190 million in taxes. Russia has made no secret about positioning itself as a unique tax haven. It is not uncommon for the rich and wealthy to seek tax havens by immigrating abroad. Eduardo Saverin, one of the five founders of Facebook, and reportedly with a net worth of $3.9 billion, has immigrated to tax friendly Singapore, which has a tax rate of 18 percent.
It’s unclear how beneficial it would be for Steven Seagal to immigrate to Russia for the reasons of seeking a tax haven. Forbes had Seagal’s net worth at just under $10 million in 2012 and online CelebrityNetWorth has most recently listed Seagal’s net worth at around $5 million.
Steven Seagal’s stance that Vladimir Putin is one of the world’s great leaders, apparently doesn’t mirror his own country’s position. The US Senate, last Thursday, authorized a bill for $1 billion in loans for Ukraine , and gave President Obama additional power to authorize and impose stricter sanctions on Russia.
By John J. Poltonowicz
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