The Kremlin announced on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an order granting Russian citizenship to actor Steven Seagal.
According to the Times of India, the 64-year-old action star has been asking for Russian papers for a long time:
Commenting on the subject on a conference call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Seagal has repeatedly asked for Russian citizenship.
Seagal is famous for his “warm feelings towards Russia” that he has never concealed, Peskov said.
“At the same time, he is a rather well-known actor, which became the reason for granting him Russian Federation citizenship,” Peskov said.
“Putin and Seagal share a passion for martial arts: Seagal is an expert in aikido, and Putin is an expert in judo. They’ve appeared together at martial arts demonstrations and official events, including last year’s Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok,” NPR observes.
NPR further notes that Segal has “emerged as an unlikely conduit between U.S. and Russian officials,” including a useful contribution to a 2013 congressional delegation to research the history of the Boston Marathon bombers.