By comparison, it's quite striking that so many wealthy Russians and Chinese are opting to bank money, buy houses, educate their children (and yes, obtain passports) in countries where they know they can still count on fair treatment before the law. Meanwhile, despite the surface prosperity of Beijing and Moscow, not too many wealthy Westerners seem to be picking up homes there.
I wonder if the dismal fates of businesspeople such as Bill Browder (who made hundreds of millions of dollars in Russia before running afoul of the corruption there) or Neil Heywood (apparently murdered by the wife of now-disgraced Chinese big shot Bo Xilai) have anything to do with it? Such stories suggest, indeed, that Depardieu might find himself rediscovering the virtues of an EU passport if his friendship with Putin happens to sour.
Citizenship, in other words, is still a pretty important issue -- despite all that well-meaning balderdash to the contrary about our "borderless" global civilization. Quite a few people, indeed, are still prepared to put their lives on the line to defend the highly abstract principle of sovereignty -- but only when it's a matter of the countries in which they are citizens. That's why we still get so emotional over seemingly marginal territorial disputes -- or the doings of big shots like Gérard Depardieu.